Researchers: Champagne's aroma comes from bubbles

September 28, 2009 By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID , AP Science Writer

(AP) -- Don Ho was right. It is the tiny bubbles. A team of researchers - in Europe not surprisingly - found that Champagne's bursting bubbles not only tickle the nose, they create a mist that wafts the aroma to the drinker.

"I love the idea that such a wonderful and subtle mechanism acts right under our nose during Champagne tasting. In a single Champagne glass, there is as much food for the mind as pleasure for your senses," said researcher Gerard Liger-Belair of the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne in France.

In the Hawaiian singer's 1966 hit, Don Ho sings, "Tiny Bubbles, In the wine, Make me happy, Make me feel fine."

Now science is looking at the source of those feelings.

Liger-Belair and his colleagues used high-resolution mass spectrometry to study the chemicals in Champagne and sparkling wines and in the bubbles and the mist they produce.

While the aromas rising from sparking wines are well known, the study is the most detailed look at how they are get there, the researchers said.

They discovered that some of the chemicals that impart the special toasty, fruity aromas to the beverage are captured by the bubbles and brought to the surface in higher concentrations than in the wine itself, they report in Tuesday's edition of .

It's sort of like how the bursting of bubbles at the imparts that special oceanic scent to the nearby air, Liger-Belair explained.

"Actually, bubbles trapped by the sea breakers action considerably increase exchange surfaces between the sea bulk and the atmosphere," he said.

The bubbles drag chemicals along their way through the liquid to the sea surface and finally burst and eject droplets into the atmosphere.

"Air trapped during rough sea conditions were found to increase specific organic concentrations in marine aerosols by several orders of magnitude compared with those found in the liquid," he said.

So if the same thing is happening to sparkling wines, does that mean champagne smells better than it tastes?

Liger-Belair said the scientists were tempted to reach that conclusion, but that he is a physicist and co-lead author Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin of the Institute for Ecological Chemistry and Molecular BioGeochemistry in Neuherberg, Germany, is a chemist; they are not experts in the science of smell and taste, he said.


On the Net:

Proceedings of the National Academy of Science:

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: 'Armored' bubbles can exist in stable non-spherical shapes (Update)

Related Stories

A new process for making much-sought iron nanospheres

February 19, 2007

Using a process that creates bubbles as hot as the surface of the sun, chemists are reporting development of a new method for making hollow hematite (iron oxide) nanospheres. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's ...

Mysterious nanobubble burst?

December 2, 2008

( -- The nanobubbles that develop on submerged surfaces should not really be able to exist. Because of the enormous internal pressure, they should disappear within a short time. Nevertheless, they sometimes last ...

Recommended for you

The universe's most miraculous molecule

October 9, 2015

It's the second most abundant substance in the universe. It dissolves more materials than any other solvent. It stores incredible amounts of energy. Life as we know it would not be possible without it. And although it covers ...

New approach for 'nanohoops' could energize future devices

October 12, 2015

When Ramesh Jasti began making tiny organic circular structures using carbon atoms, the idea was to improve carbon nanotubes being developed for use in electronics or optical devices. He quickly realized, however, that his ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.