Thursday, February 25, 2010

Adventures in Napa, Part 1: Champagne Bubbles

Just back from a wonderful trip to Napa which I will be sharing with you over three blogs.  This first, Part 1, is the result of an interesting conversation that I had with "Tom" at Cliff Lede Winery's tasting room.

Tom was a real expert on Champagne and sparkling wines and was VERY interesting.  We had one major disagreement, however, that I'd like to share with you and get some feedback from any interested readers.
As Tom was pouring our sparkling wines, I cleverly asked him if he knew that the average bottle of Champagne has 56 million bubbles.  He pleasantly said "rubbish" or something to that effect.  He said that there are approximately 11,000 bubbles per glass which equates to about 66,000 per bottle.  He quoted his source as some unnamed scientific journal that had spelled it out.

I have always used the 56 million figure because Karen MacNeil's Wine Bible, of which I am an advocate, states clearly on        page 173, the 56 million figure as determined by the "house of Bollinger, which has studied bubbles seriously."

Next, I perused the internet and found an article on a scientist, Bill Lembeck, who calculated the volume of CO2 in a 750 ml bottle of wine and then divided that by the volume of an average bubble, determined through use of an "optical comparator."  Mr. Lembeck's estimate was 49 million bubbles per bottle, on average.

As you can see, 49 and 56 million are significantly greater than the 66,000 quoted by Tom.

Lastly, I checked in with The Count on Sesame Street on the number of bubbles.  He pulled out a bottle of sparkling wine, popped the cork, and started counting.  Vun leetle bubble, two leetle bubbles, three leetle bubbles.....he's going to get back to me on it....

I'd like to hear if anyone has other sources to either confirm or disprove the 49-56 million figure.


Tom da Wine Guy


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