Foam collars and nucleation points

I was not alone being tired within the SEVA group as we started the early evening lecture session back at the hotel. Richard Marchal of Reims University presented on foam (the bubbles at the top of the glass, not the effervescence which comes up through it). We learned that the premier taille gives better bubbles than the cuvee, and that botrytis is the enemy of a well bubbling Champagne. And we were also told that filtering a sparkling wine reduces the fizz. The theory came on a little strong for the time-slot given, but things perked up as we watched Champagne being poured into different glasses (heights) and into glasses with 80 micro-dots laser-etched inside the bottom. Taller glasses lead to larger surface bubbles since the bubbles gain in size as they ascend through the liquid (gaining CO2). And those micro-dots sure did make the fizz fizz, though it only lasted 5 minutes or so.

The high-point came as the session ended with a tasting culminating with a 1983, zero dosage wine which had only been hand-disgorged hours before. Wonderful! So rich and complex. I’d have never guessed it was zero-dosage, so soft was the acid (though not flabby). Beautiful. One in the eye for my theories that sparkling wines need cork ageing, but then this wine was nearly 30 years old.

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