'Champagne really tastes best from a narrow glass'

Next time you hit a bar to enjoy your favourite champagne, be sure you drink it with a tall flute as the fizz tastes the best when taken from a narrow glass, say scientists.

A team at the University of Reims in France found that the bubbly poured into a long narrow flute provides more of a nose-tingle than served in a wide and shallow "coupe", thanks to high levels of carbon dioxide at the top of the glass.

For their study, published in the journal Public Library of Science ONE, the scientists used sophisticated gas-analysis technology to test the effect of either pouring champagne into a flute or a coupe.

They also used infrared imaging to visualise gas escaping from the champagne surface and found that the levels of the gas close to the edge of the flute were two to three times higher than those reached above the coupe.

Carbon dioxide (CO2), the researchers said, irritates sensory nerves in the nose, giving rise to the well known tingling sensation that accompanies drinking champagne, the Daily Mail reported.

The researchers led by Dr Gerard Liger-Belair said: "From the consumer point of view, the role of bubbling is indeed essential in champagne, in sparkling wines, and even in any other carbonated beverage. Without bubbles, champagne would be unrecognisable, beers and sodas would be flat.

"However, the role of effervescence is suspected to go far beyond the solely aesthetical point of view," they said.

The effect of bubbles is also an essential part of the champagne drinking experience, the researchers said.

A standard 75 centilitre bottle of champagne typically holds around nine grams of dissolved CO2, a "potent irritant" of the nasal cavity. Released into the air, this generates around five litres of gas under normal conditions of temperature and pressure, they added.

The researchers said that concentrations of gaseous CO2 above the champagne surface were measured for the first 15 minutes after pouring into each type of glass.

The tests showed that throughout this time, levels of the gas close to the edge of the flute were two to three times higher than those reached above the coupe.

Surprisingly, lowering temperature did not affect the level of carbon dioxide above the glass, said the scientists.

"Those analytical results are self-consistent with sensory analysis of champagne and sparkling wines, since it is generally accepted that the smell of champagne, and especially its first nose, is always more irritating... when champagne is served into a flute than when it is served into a coupe," they added.

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