A toast to sparkling wine!

New Year’s Eve is upon us, which means it’s time to break open the bubbly! Want to drop a little knowledge along with your toasts? Here’s a rundown on this most festive of beverages (including a video that changed my life forever):

Disgorgement line. Photo from Wikipedia

1. Champagne is sparkling wine from a specific region of France east of Paris and can be made from white chardonnay, pinot noir, or pinot meunier. The hefty price tag is due to an intensive process that involves two fermentations, a step called riddling, which involves slowly turning the bottles upside down over the course of several weeks to get all the yeast that’s been added to create carbonation into the neck of the bottle, and disgorgement, where that yeast is removed violently as pressure shoots it out of the bottles.

2. Other types of sparkling wine include Cava (from Spain), Prosecco (from Italy), and Crémant, which is sparkling wine made the same way as Champagne but in other regions of France. Serious Eats has a great guide to types of sparkling wine and how they are made, which has been a great source for this post.

3. This video changed my life: the correct way to open a bottle of sparkling wine:

4. But sabering looks like a lot more fun (I have not tried this myself):

Champagne bubbles. Photo by Gérard Liger-Belair

5. According to French scientist Gérard Liger-Belair, author of Uncorked: The Science of Champagne, a 750 ml bottle of Champagne is under quite a lot of pressure, containing the equivalent of 5 liters of carbon dioxide. Consequently, a popped cork will launch at 25 miles/hour–and that increases to over 34 miles/hour if the bottle is room temperature! (Of course, if you’re opening your bottles as instructed in item 3 above, you shouldn’t have to worry about putting anyone’s eye out.)

6. Didn’t manage to finish the bottle? Sticking the end of a silver spoon in the neck of the bottle does not do anything to help keep it bubbly, but a Champagne saver stopper will!

7. Want something even fancier than plain ol’ sparkling wine? Try a Champagne Cocktail!

Whatever you’re drinking, please do so responsibly, and have a happy New Year!

Featured image by Connor

Anne S

Anne Sauer is an atheist with an appetite for science, good food, and making connections between the two. She is currently pursuing her MBA in Sustainable Management at Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. Her favorite foods are salted caramel ice cream and chicken tikka masala. You can find her on twitter @aynsavoy.

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