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What makes Champagne bubbly?

Posted December 10, 2014

Just in time for the holidays, scientists have unraveled some of the chemistry behind the diffusion of CO2 molecules in a glass of Champagne. Among their findings, they discovered that ethanol is the main molecule (along with water) responsible for the value of CO2 diffusion coefficients in Champagne, and is therefore an essential molecule to better understand the CO2 bubble formation and growth in these beverages. Besides shedding light on the bubble dynamics and subsequent tasting sensations of Champagne, the results could also have applications for evaluating the diffusion of CO2 molecules in water/alcohol mixtures that are commonly used in physical chemistry.


Molecular dynamics simulations and NMR spectroscopy measurements show that ethanol is the main molecule, apart from water, that is responsible for the value of the CO2 diffusion coefficients (and subsequent tasting sensations) in typical Champagne wines. Credit: Bonhommeau, et al. ©2014 American Chemical Society

The researchers, David A. Bonhommeau, et al., from the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, have published their findings in a recent issue of The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters. The work was supported by the Bull company, experts in HPC (High-Performance Computing); and ANRT (the Association Nationale de la Recherche et de la Technologie).

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