Does a teaspoon keep the fizz in a bottle of bubbly?

Does this life hack have any effect on keeping your bubbles fresh

Perhaps the best approach is to just drink up and finish your bubbles. Because, science. Photograph: iStock

Perhaps the best approach is to just drink up and finish your bubbles. Because, science. Photograph: iStock

 

A particularly bourgeois life hack is to retain the fizz of a bottle of Champagne – or, indeed, cava or prosecco – with the help of a spoon. The method is to drop a metal utensil, handle down, into the neck of the open bottle. But does this actually work?

This popular theory is thought to work because, according to a 2015 Huffington Post article wherein writer and Champagne enthusiast Michelle Persad experimented with the trick, the metal from the spoon cools down the air inside the bottle. Apparently, this “makes the air more dense,” writes Persad.

“The denser air acts like a blanket on the surface of the wine and prevents the bubbles from escaping.” Ultimately, based on their own anecdotal and personal tests, Persad says that the teaspoon seemed to keep the bubbly bubbly, but not extravagantly so.

As early as 1994, however, this theory was being debunked by myth-busters. Richard Zare, a Stanford University chemist had a bit of craic cracking into some Champagne bottles in the name of research. Zare was joined by the food writer Harold McGee, their friends and family, to uncork and sample bottles of bubbly that were preserved with and without metal utensils.

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They found that there wasn’t much difference in the outcome, informally calling into question the metal spoon theory. You can read an account of Zare’s findings online by searing for the article Champagne bubble myth burst: Forget the silver spoon on news.standford.edu.

Theory

It was widely reported, in 2016, that the Interprofessional Committee of Champagne, a French association of grape growers and winemakers in the Champagne region, had run tests on the teaspoon theory and confidently debunked its powers of fizz protection.

Hervé This, a French chemist and food journalist, wrote about the findings in his book Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavour. “The pressure in bottles opened and left open or in bottles opened and left open with a spoon decreased in the same way – whereas a stopper or cork prevented the gas escape.”

According to Zare, the best way to keep your bubbly bubbly is to keep it cold. It’s understood that carbon dioxide becomes less soluble in water, and other liquids, as the temperature increases, so the best way to keep your fizzy drinks fizzy is to keep them cold. Presumably, this theory fits with non-alcoholic bubbly drinks such as Nosecco (a sparkling non-alcoholic alternative to prosecco) or the non-alcoholic Carl Jung Brut, available from Baggot Street Wines in Dublin 4.

As time ticks on and takes us with it towards the party season, it may be that the old teaspoon trick is better left in the past. Perhaps the best approach is to just drink up and finish your bubbles. Because, science.

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