Champagne makers know that a glass wine bottle, a specially fitted cork and a long fermentation process enable the extra sugars to convert to effervescent bubbles, which is champagne's trademark. And while many people enjoy champagne for its eruptive opening, champagne aficionados have long suspected the bubbles contained the flavor. French scientists published an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences noting that the bubbles contain 30 times more flavor-enhancing chemicals than the rest of the beverage.
Co-author Gerard Liger-Belair of Reims University in France said his obsession with champagne bubbles led to this research. "As champagne or sparkling wine is poured into a glass, the myriad of ascending bubbles collapse and radiate a multitude of tiny droplets above the free surface into the form of very characteristic and refreshing aerosols," the researchers wrote in the paper (which is one of the most eloquently written research papers I have read).
Using an ultra-high resolution mass spectrometer, Linger-Belair and his colleagues examined the chemical makeup of the aerosols, which bubble up in champagnes. In every case, the researchers learned that the bubbles had a denser concentration of flavors. He urges drinkers to use champagne flutes when imbibing, as the stemware promotes bubbles.
"It seems that the traditional champagne method ensures that there is a fine stream of bubbles, which, presumably, will give you a more enduring aromatic lift," Liger-Belair told the BBC.