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Champagne tastes better out of glasses, research shows

Researchers have discovered sparkling wines behave very differently depending on what they are served in. 

Studies showed that in disposable cups, the bubbles stick to the sides for longer and grow larger – affecting the taste of the drink.

Bubble size is an important measure in the quality of sparkling wines like champagne. 

The US-based researchers said there was a “well-known notion” that finer, smaller bubbles were often associated with premium vintages. 

The observations were made by a team at the University of Texas in Austin as they monitored the sound bubbles make when they burst on the surface. 

Researcher Dr Kyle Spratt said: “Just by looking, it was clear the bubbles that formed in a styrofoam cup stuck to the sides much longer than they do in a flute, so that the bubbles are much larger than usual when they finally break off and rise to the surface.” 

The team were trying to identify distinct acoustic “fingerprints” that could be used to help determine the quality of a champagne. 

Dr Spratt added: “By listening to the bubbles we are able to infer information about size and activity. 

“Bubbles are very resonant. They basically ring like bells, and the frequency of that ringing depends in part on their size.” 

The team’s findings, presented at a conference organised by the Acoustical Society of America in New Orleans, follow similar studies in the heart of France’s Champagne region. 

Research by chemical physicist Professor Gerard Liger-Belair showed that drinking champagne from a flute can enhance its flavour far more than from a wide glass, due to the way the bubbles are released on the surface. 

He also found etched glasses which release bubbles in steady streams help to enhance the taste. 

But further studies suggested the size of the bubbles might not be so important as their numbers.

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