Gérard Liger-Belair
Champagne Bubbles

Gérard Liger-Belair

Abstract:

At the end of the 17th century, an obstinate and rigorous monk, dom Pierre Pérignon (1638-1715), gave birth to the Champagne in the Hautvillers Monastery, close to Epernay city. If the fatherhood of Champagne is still a matter of debate and controversy, everyone should however acknowledge that Dom Pérignon devoted his life carefully considering, testing and improving each step leading to the elaboration of a sparkling white wine of high quality. Today, after nearly three centuries, the champagne has undoubtedly become a myth. The amazing ballet of bubbles in a champagne flute is not foreign to his incredible notoriety. The effervescence animates the champagne, almost bringing it to life… This is now over a decade that we have investigating the physicochemical processes which are the origin of the effervescence and foam of champagne and sparkling wines.

Upon the last decades, the science of bubbles and foams has considerably developed. Physicists, chemists and mathematicians have passion for these fragile objects whose properties are extraordinary. Nevertheless, few scientists chose to focus on bubbles and foams in the case of champagne and other sparkling wines. Yet, concentrated wine in the restricted volume of a champagne flute, all stages in the life and death of a bubble are present. The bubble arises from a submerged particle, develops inside the glass, closing up to the surface, where it inexorably ages, then vanishes. Each of these steps deserves attention because the physicochemical mechanisms occuring in a flute are very subtle.

I invite you to a journey into the heart of a flute of champagne at the scale of the bubble .... We will unravel each stage of the life of the bubble, starting from its birth, on the wall of the glass, to its final explosion at the surface, liberating the exhalation of wine aroma.

Gérard Liger-Belair - Short Biography#

Gérard Liger-Belair was born in Beyrouth (Lebanon) in 1970. He studied Fundamental Physics in Paris VI University. He received his PhD in Physical Sciences in 2001, from Reims University, where he was appointed Associate Professor in 2002 and full Professor of Chemical Physics in 2007. He is presently the leader of the ‘‘Bubble Team’’ in the Laboratory of Oenology and Applied Chemistry. He has been investigating the physics and chemistry behind the bubbling properties of carbonated beverages (including champagne, sparkling wines, beers and fizzy waters) for several years. He is the author or co-author of many articles and books on this topic. He is the recipient of several scientific award, including the 2004 Award for Professional/Scholarly book in Physics from the Association of American Publishers for his book ‘‘Uncorked, the science of champagne’’, published in 2004 by Princeton University Press. He also has a passion for micro-photography. His series of ‘‘bubble’’ photographs, at the juncture between pure Science and modern Art, have appeared in numerous exhibitions and art galleries. His current interests include the science of bubbles, foams and thin films, and their broad interdisciplinary applications.

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