Here's Exactly How Many Bubbles Are in a Glass of Champagne

Have you ever sipped a glass of Champagne and thought to yourself, “man, I’d really enjoy this more if I knew exactly how many bubbles were in this bottle.” No? Well, I bet after reading that sentence you’ll wonder about it next time. Luckily, I won’t leaving you hanging. Or, more specifically, scientists won’t leave you hanging, because they know precisely how many bubbles are in a bottle of Champagne. 

In 2014, researcher Gérard Liger-Belair published his research aptly titled, “How Many Bubbles in Your Glass of Bubbly?” in The Journal of Physical Chemistry B. And, according to the findings, there are far fewer bubbles in a glass of Champagne than scientists previously thought.

You see, up until this research, there had been a common misconception that a glass of Champagne likely had about 15 million bubbles in it. But, according to Liger-Belair, there are far, far fewer, putting the number at closer to 1 million.

To come to this conclusion, Liger-Belair considered the temperature of the glass, the tilt of the flute, and the “bubble dynamics,” which we will get into more detail about later. 

"One million bubbles seems to be a reasonable approximation for the whole number of bubbles likely to form if you resist drinking champagne from your flute," he concluded in the research. And, as Science Direct noted, Liger-Belair also concluded that if you perchance want even more bubbles in your bubbly you should serve it warmer than is typically advised and to tilt the flute more while pouring. 

Now, onto that bubble dynamics. You see, Liger-Belair isn’t the only researcher concerned with bubbles. In 2023, researchers from Brown University and the University of Toulouse released new research that explained why bubbles in move in a straight line up a glass of Champagne but don’t behave the same way in other carbonated beverages. 

The experiments, Brown’s team explained, included both numerical and physical experiments, and plenty of “pouring out glasses of Champagne, beer, sparkling water, and sparkling wine.” The results, the teams said, both explain what gives Champagne bubbles their unique properties and also could hold “important implications for understanding bubbly flows in the field of fluid mechanics.” 

“This is the type of research that I've been working out for years,” Brown engineering professor Roberto Zenit, who was one of the paper’s authors, shared in a press release. “Most people have never seen an ocean seep or an aeration tank, but most of them have had a soda, a beer, or a glass of Champagne. By talking about Champagne and beer, our master plan is to make people understand that fluid mechanics is important in their daily lives.”

So, why do Champagne bubbles flow straight? According to the team, Champagne and sparkling wines have a special ingredient that “acts as soap-like compounds” called surfactants. These surfactant-like molecules “help reduce the tensions between the liquid and the gas bubbles,” providing them with a smooth ride from the bottom to the top of the glass.

“The theory is that in Champagne, these contaminants that act as surfactants are the good stuff,” Zenit, senior author on the paper, added. “These protein molecules that give flavor and uniqueness to the liquid are what makes the bubbles chains they produce stable.”

So, there you have it. You now have plenty of fun facts to share at your next dinner party. Go forth and spread the word and toast to science while you’re at it.  
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