How long do the bubbles last in sparkling wine?


Monday, 03 July, 2023

How long do the bubbles last in sparkling wine?

Tiny bubbles and the carbonation kick are all part of the champagne and sparkling wine experience, but how long can these drinks be stored before they go flat? The answer is that it depends on the bottle size, according to researchers reporting in the ACS Omega. The researchers found that vintages in magnums retained their bubbles more efficiently during prolonged aging than the same vintages in standard bottles — they estimated a 40-year shelf life for 950 mL bottles, 82 years for 1.5 L bottles and 132 years for 3 L bottles.

When it comes to champagne and sparkling wines, dissolved CO2 is a key compound responsible for the much sought-after effervescence in glasses. Carbon dioxide is produced by combining yeasts, sugar and wine — which also produces additional alcohol. Although the yeast dies within a few months, complex aromas develop as the bottles age undisturbed for 15 months to several decades. While this happens, the beverage is losing carbon dioxide, which slowly escapes through the sealed metal caps or corks. Gérard Liger-Belair from the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne and colleagues wanted to know how the size of the bottle influenced how long champagne can be aged before it goes flat.

The researchers measured the carbon dioxide in different champagne vintages aged for multiple decades and estimated the original amount of yeast-produced carbon dioxide. They found that the amount of gas inside the vessels, which were sealed with metal caps, decreased the longer the bottles aged. The oldest vintage from 1974 lost the most carbonation, nearly 80%. The team also found a correlation between the volume of a bottle and the carbon dioxide level, with larger bottles retaining gas better than smaller ones.

The researchers developed a formula to calculate a bottle’s shelf life, or how long aged champagne would spontaneously produce bubbles when poured in a glass. They predicted a shelf life of 40 years for standard 750 mL bottles, 82 years for 1.5 L bottles and 132 years for 3 L bottles, after which point the champagne would be flat. From their large selection of aged champagne, going back nearly 50 years, the researchers say they’ve shown how the drink’s bubbliness over time depends on the bottle’s size.

The findings have been published in the American Chemical Society’s journal ACS Omega.

Image credit: iStock.com/DNY59

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