The attractive bubbles of champagne are part of the rituals of life, from toast to lunch on Sunday.
However, they are achieved through a process that you may not have known.
With ingenious chemical deception, their producers even manage to keep the gas in bottles, even though they had to open them halfway through the production process.
If you visit the Champagne region (in the northeastern part of France), you may be surprised to hear that the champagne producer says they add a mixture of sugar and yeast to this wine.
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For beginners this would sound like some people do for Christmas with bad red wine: add sugar, a little water, spices, put it to boil, maybe add some kirsch, in order to transform a cheap beverage into a delicacy.
But the moderate addition of sugar and yeast to white wine is part indispensable in elaboration from each champagne.
As microorganisms extract sugar, they release carbon dioxide, which dissolves into the wine.
They are a source of attractive bubbles.
More sugar, more bubbles
"There is a direct correlation between the number and size of the bubbles and the amount of added sugar," said Gerard Liger-Bailer, a physicist at the University of Reims, France, who studies bubbles in champagne.
The more sugar, the more bubbles will be larger their size, while the energy contained in the yeast will cause champagne to release more gas.
Strictly speaking, there really are no bubbles in the wine until you open it.
This action reduces the pressure and allows gas molecules to meet at once and form more bubbles, as it causes champagne contact with imperfections and dust in a cup.
The yeast in the wine, of course, quickly disappears when it is banned in the container.
But the small residues of this compound begin to get rid of earlier, because the contents of the champagne bottle remain untouched because the yeast is added until it reaches the buyer.
Remove the waste and place the cork
In order to remove the remains of yeast – called iodine – from the wine, champagne manufacturers turn the bottles upside down and store them on the shelves. Then, they gently spin each time.
The daisy goes to the neck of the bottles and becomes a sludge.
What happens next is a brilliant part of the applied chemistry that is said to have been invented in 1884.
The bottlenose bottles are immersed in very cold bathsalt water, at a temperature below 0 ° C
This water is stored in a liquid state because salt reduces the freezing temperature of the solution. Thus the waste is lost in the neck of the bottle.
Then, once the lid is removed, the pressure of the gas in the wine pushes the rest of the layer.
In this golden moment it is when the manufacturer adds a little more sugar and a little champagne, and fill the bottle and help transform its content into a specific taste.
After this supplement, known as "dose", cork is added quickly.
All the carbon dioxide that the wine has will already be there, says Liger-Bailer. The dose is added more to the taste.
Intriguing and complex flavors
You may be surprised to learn that between the reactions that occur then is the reaction of Maillard, something like what happens when caramelizing the bread for toast, fries with bacon or onions.
"In champagne, the reaction of Maillard creates a taste of cookies or brioche, when this wine goes through a long aging process, "writes Peter Liem in his book under the heading Champagne.
This reaction between proteins, sugars and other components, can produce very intriguing flavors and complex.
Leeem says that most of the champagnes are improving one year after removing the leaves, although they are usually offered for sale as soon as they finish.
Liger-Belair, for its part, is currently investigating how long aging champagne can stand without the risk of losing bubbles.
The best champagnes are those who remain to rest for several decades.
However, such a cork did not seal the bottle firmly, more that Wait to drink wine the greater the risk of which has no bubbles.
"We work a lot with mathematical models" to improve the cork and the dynamic environment in the bottle, says the physicist.
In a bottle of champagne there are five liters of carbon dioxide.
The next time you open one of these and enjoy the spectacle of bubbles, remember a delicate combination of biology and chemistry which gave them life
This text was originally published in English. If you wish, you can read it here.
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