French breakthrough: researchers conclude Champagne tastes better when poured like beer

PARIS (AP) — French scientists say they have settled a question that has long divided Champagne lovers: How best to pour the bubbly?

At an angle, not straight down.

The scientists at the University of Reims say pouring bubbly at a slant, as you would a beer, preserves more of the tiny gas bubbles that improve the drink's flavor and aromas.

The study — "On the Losses of Dissolved CO2 During Champagne Serving" — appears this week in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a U.S. publication.

The researchers say they looked at two ways of pouring Champagne: the "traditional" method, with the liquid poured vertically to hit the bottom of the Champagne flute; and the "beer-like way," executed by tilting the glass and gently sliding in the Champagne.

They say the study matters not just to Champagne drinkers but to glassmakers. They note that the industry is researching a "new generation" of Champagne glasses specially designed to control the release of carbon dioxide, the gas that gives the drink its sparkle.

The researchers used bottles of 2008 vintage from Cooperative Nogent l'Abbesse to examine how the two methods of pouring affected the release of CO2.

They said they used two ways to measure the amount of CO2 in each pouring, and tested bottles chilled to varying degrees. the result: Champagne poured like beer retained more gas than Champagne poured to create a head of "mousse," or foam.

And the colder the bottle, the less gas was lost, the study found.

It did not say whether professional tasters were called in to confirm their findings, and none of the six researchers could be reached for comment. But their expertise appears formidable: They're French, their university is in the heart of Champagne country, and lead researcher Gerard Liger-Belair, a professor of chemical physics, is the author of "Uncorked: The Science of Champagne," a book that appeared in the U.S. in 2004 to admiring reviews.

The study will be presented this month in Boston at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.

The verdict in favor of sideways-pouring came as no surprise to Guillaume Ranvier, the head of food and beverage at the Hyatt Regency Paris-Madeleine, whose Cafe M & Champagne Bar offers around 30 different kinds of Champagne from about $100 to $320 a bottle.

"But of course, when I pour a glass of Champagne I pour it like that," he said.

Ranvier said the establishment's barman always pours Champagne into a tilted glass to keep the bubbles in. Informed that top French researchers had delivered scientific confirmation, Ranvier laughed and said: "Great. I'll tell the barman when he gets back from vacation."

The study did not say exactly how many bottles of Champagne were uncorked in the interests of science, but the researchers did thank the Pommery Champagne house "for regularly supplying us with various Champagne samples."


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