ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

Awhile back, I thought I read about how to get more bubbles in a fluted Champagne glass. The more bubbles, the better the taste, right? How do you get more bubbles in Champagne glasses?

—Jack P., Sunriver, Ore.

Dear Jack,

When it comes to sparkling wine, a continuous stream of small bubbles is desirable. I don’t know if the bubbles make the wine taste better, but they sure are fun to drink.

There are a few things you can do to encourage the continuous stream of bubbles. First is to keep your bubbly nice and cold. Carbon dioxide makes the bubbles happen, and this gas is more soluble as the temperature of the liquid goes down. That’s why warm carbonated beverages—from Champagne to beer to soda—will fizz up as the carbon dioxide escapes rapidly. If a bubbly is well chilled, there will be a gentle stream of tiny bubbles that will last a long time as the carbon dioxide is slowly released.

Bubbles are formed at what are called “nucleation sites,” which are tiny surface imperfections in the glass. Some glass manufacturers will etch the bowl of a sparkling wine glass with a laser or an etching tool to get extra nucleation sites for continuous bubble formation. I’ve seen etching tools for sale to consumers, but I really can’t imagine buying a tool to do it yourself—it makes more sense to me to invest in a quality sparkling glass. Speaking of, once you have bubbles, you want to enjoy and capture them in your glass, which is why flutes or tulips are preferred, their shape acting as a chimney to channel the bubbles.

—Dr. Vinny


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