Chemistry of champagne

Tonight we will all celebrate the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020.

What is the best way to welcome the new year? By drinking champagne, of course!

The first feature that we can see just by looking to champagne is presence of lots of bubbles.

Bubbles are made of carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide is produced during the fermentation process. Champagne is so rich in carbon dioxide, that it is estimated that about 20 million bubbles of carbon dioxide are released in a single champagne flute.

Bubbles are important not only for the sparkling effect of champagne, but also because they are contributors to flavor and aroma.

Hundreds of molecules are responsible for the aroma. Champagne is characterized by a sweet, fruity, floral aroma as well as acid, dry and metallic notes.

Some of the compounds responsible for the complexity of flavor and aroma are the following.

Gamma-dacalactone, for example, has an intense fruity and peachy flavor and contributes to the sweetness of champagne.

Decanoic acid, also called capric acid, is one of the molecules contributing to the acidic notes of our favorite sparkling wine.

Dodecanoic acid, also called lauric acid, is the one, among others, to give the peculiar dry and metallic notes to champagne.

Happy new year full of personal and professional achievements!

Reference:

Liger-Belair, “The Physics and Chemistry behind the Bubbling Properties of Champagne and Sparkling Wines:  A State-of-the-Art Review”, (2005), https://doi.org/10.1021/jf048259e

Published by Martina Bodner

Biotechnologist, PhD Student in Food Chemistry, High school science teacher, STEM and autism advocate, mother.

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