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How Many Bubbles are in your Sparkling Wine and Champagne?

July 09, 2015 by Kennards Self Storage

“Whilst I enjoy nothing more than a crisp cool Champagne, never have I looked at the bottle and wondered how many sweet little bubbles exist inside. After reading this article by, I will never look at my bottle of sparkling the same way…. Have a read and see if you feel the urgent need to open bottles and start counting?” Lynda Walsh Kennards Wine Cellaring BDM

How one scientist made our head hurt more than a Champagne hangover?

Alright, wine nerds. We know you geeked out on the trivia in our August 10 Sip, “Do You Know Wine?” The factoid about the number of bubbles in a bottle of sparkling wine — about 44 million — particularly got your juices flowing. Yes, pun intended.

We got that tidbit from The California Wine Institute. They got it from Napa’s Domaine Chandon. It also appears in Wine Review Magazine, along with the slightly higher bubble count in a bottle of Champagne (49 million).

So, what’s the source? All sources seem to point to the research of scientist Bill Lembeck, who calculated the volume of CO2 in a 750 milliliter bottle of Champagne and divided that number by the volume of an average bubble.

He already knew that the average pressure in a Champagne bottle was 5.5 atmospheres at 20 degrees Celsius. Accordingly, a 750 milliliter bottle contains 4,125 milliliters (252 cubic inches) of gas dissolved in the wine. The gas is not released until the cork is removed. But he still needed to calculate the volume of an average bubble.

Using a machine called an optical comparator, Lembeck determined the average bubble diameter as 0.5 millimeters, or 0.020 inches. He did the math and came up with the volume of an average bubble at 69 millionths of a milliliter, or 4.2 millionths of a cubic inch.

Still with us? At this point Lembeck knew that at least one 750 milliliter volume of the CO2 dissolved in the liquid would remain behind when the cork was removed. So, the available CO2 would be the originally calculated CO2 (4,125 milliliters) minus the trapped CO2 (750 milliliters), leaving 3,375 milliliters, or 206 cubic inches, headed for bubble hood.

Lastly, he divided this available volume of gas by that of the average bubble. And that’s how Lembeck got 49 million bubbles. Glad you asked?

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