It’s the end of the night, and a half-drunk bottle of champagne lies open before you. How do you keep it fizzy for the next day?
Many people swear by a simple trick: stick a spoon – preferably silver – into the neck of the bottle, handle down. Do this and chances are there’ll still be some fizz in the morning. The thing is, of course, this doesn’t prove the spoon had anything to do with it; the fizz may have remained without it.
In 1994, the spoon trick was put to the test by Prof Richard Zare, a chemistry professor at Stanford University, California. He asked a panel of eight amateur tasters to judge the fizziness of champagne poured from 10 bottles. Some had just been opened, while others had been left for 26 hours with either nothing, or a spoon made of either silver or stainless steel in their necks. The judges weren’t told how each bottle had been treated. The conclusion: none of the spoons had any real impact on the fizziness – a finding later confirmed by the professional association of champagne producers in France.
So what’s the best thing to do? Get yourself a stopper, and keep the drink in the fridge. Carbon dioxide gas, which gives champagne its fizz, is more soluble in colder liquid, so the bubbly will better retain its sparkle.
Robert is a science writer and visiting professor of science at Aston University.