While popping the cork remains champagne’s most iconic attribute, science suggests it’s actually not the most useful. New research suggests that instead of popping bottles, you should listen very intently to the sound of its bubbles in order to determine the wine’s quality — with an underwater microphone, naturally. That won’t look weird at a party at all!
According to a team of researchers from the Applied Research Laboratories at the University of Texas at Austin, champagne bubbles could offer more than a tasty effervescence. Using a hydrophone, the team measured the sound of champagne bubbles in various vessels, from a champagne flute to a styrofoam cup. Though their research was initially published back in October in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, the team will present their findings at the 174th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America this week.
“The point of the project is to study the sounds that champagne bubbles make, and to see what we can infer about the bubbles from the sounds that they make,” one of the study’s co-author Kyle S. Spratt said in a statement. “Bubbles are very resonant. They basically ring like bells, and the frequency of that ringing depends in part on the size of the bubbles. There is a well-known notion that the quality of a sparkling wine is correlated to the size of its bubbles, and we are investigating whether the bubble size distribution of a sparkling wine can be obtained from simple acoustical measurements.”
There’s an entire matrix of factors that determine a wine’s quality, such as its tannin content, color, and more. So with champagne, it makes sense that bubble resonance might help determine its “goodness” and in turn, its price. It’s just not clear yet what kind of bubble “sounds” indicate a higher quality wine — but the researchers are working on it.
Like anything about wine, the “best” kind is the one that you enjoy. Unless you have bad taste. Then find another wine to enjoy.