Why you should never drink champagne out of a plastic glass: It ruins its flavour because bubbles stick to the cup's sides

  • Finer bubbles often associated with premium vintages and better quality
  • Scientists studied the sound bubbles make when the burst on the surface
  • In one of their trials, they tested the sound when champagne was in a plastic cup
  • Bubbles stuck to the sides much longer than they did in a flute
  • This mean that the bubbles were much larger than usual when they finally broke off and rose to the surface

It is something anyone who has enjoyed a cheeky celebratory drink in the office at this time of year will already suspect.

According to scientists, drinking champagne out of a disposable cup really does make it taste different.

Researchers found that sparkling wine served in plastic or polystyrene cups behaves very differently than it does in a glass.

They say the bubbles that form in disposable cups stick to the sides for longer and grow larger.

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Researchers found that sparkling wine served in plastic or polystyrene cups behaves very differently than it does in a glass. They say the bubbles that form in disposable cups stick to the sides for longer and grow larger

Researchers found that sparkling wine served in plastic or polystyrene cups behaves very differently than it does in a glass. They say the bubbles that form in disposable cups stick to the sides for longer and grow larger

THE STUDY?

The researchers studied the sound bubbles make when the burst on the surface of a sparkling wine.?

While collecting data for the study using a hydrophone, the researchers tried using polystyrene vessels to hold the sparkling wine in an attempt to avoid the slight ringing noise that glass flutes can create.

But they found the sparkling wine behaved completely differently when not in a traditional glass.

Bubbles that formed in the styrofoam cup stuck to the sides much longer than they did in a flute.

This mean that the bubbles were much larger than usual when they finally broke off and rose to the surface.

Bubble size is an important measure in the quality of sparkling wines like champagne, with finer bubbles often associated with premium vintages.

It means as the office Christmas party season gets underway, it may be worth thinking carefully about what you choose to serve your celebratory drinks in.

Dr Kyle Spratt, a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin who has been studying bubble formation in sparkling wines, said: 'Just by looking, it was clear that the bubbles that formed in the 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.'

Dr Spratt and his colleagues made the observation while studying the sound bubbles make when the burst on the surface of a sparkling wine.

They have been attempting to identify distinct acoustic 'fingerprints' that can be used to help determine the quality of a champagne.

They presented some of their early findings at a conference organised by the Acoustical Society of America in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Dr Spratt said: 'By listening to the bubbles we are able to infer information about the average size of the bubbles, the range of bubble sizes, and the overall bubble activity.

The researchers studied the sound bubbles make when the burst on the surface of a sparkling wine, using a hydrophone (pictured)

The researchers studied the sound bubbles make when the burst on the surface of a sparkling wine, using a hydrophone (pictured)

HOW TO BE CERTAIN CHAMPAGNE IS PERFECT

You can tell if a bottle of champagne is too warm to sip - by the colour of the curl of 'smoke' when you pop the cork, researchers said last month.

Bubbly experts based, appropriately, in Champagne-Ardenne have found the smoke changes colour - depending on whether it is kept in the fridge or the cellar.

Bottles of the luxury fizz have a blue gas if it had been stored at room temperature – giving a telltale sign it may not be quite as chilled as expected.?

Above 10°C the wines appear 'heavier' and less bright, experts found.?

But you have to be quick to spot it. Led by Professor Gerard Liger-Belair, they found it has a different hue when it is 20°C (68F), compared to six or 12°C (54F).

Gerard Liger-Belair, a chemical physicist at the University of Reims said the temperature affects the formation of the grey white cloud of fog formed on opening.

'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.'

While collecting data for the study using a hydrophone, however, Dr Spratt and his colleagues tried using polystyrene vessels to hold the sparkling wine in an attempt to avoid the slight ringing noise that glass flutes can create.

But they found the sparkling wine behaved completely differently when not in a traditional glass.

Their findings build on similar studies by researchers at the University of Reims in the heart of France's Champagne-Ardenne region.

Professor Gérard Liger?Belair, a chemical physicist who has spent years studying bubble dynamics in champagne, has shown that drinking from a flute can enhance the flavour of the wine far more than a wider coupe glass, due to the way the bubbles are released on the surface.

Etched glasses that aid the release of a steady stream of bubbles also help to enhance the taste, he has found.

But last year Professor Liger-Belair also discovered that smaller bubbles in champagne may not always mean it tastes better.

He found that larger bubbles actually release far more distinctive smell and flavour molecules into are flung into the drinker's nose when they take a sip than smaller ones.

It suggests that rather than the size of the bubbles, drinkers should focus on the number that burst at the surface of their champagne as they take a glug.

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