Sparkling Wine … testing the theory that how you clean your glasses impacts on your bubbles

The Experiment

To test the theory that the method you use to wash your glasses has an impact on your sparkling wine, i.e flatten your bubbles.  A good quality sparkling wine will visibly retain its bubbles (or “beads”) in the glass 15 minutes after pouring.

The Panel

Joe Phillis – Wine appreciator and good friend.  A true sparkling wine devotee.

Tanya Denning – Wine appreciator and good friend.  A true sparkling wine devotee.

Mary Seely – Wine appreciator and good friend.  A sparkling wine enthusiast.

Caroline Offord – Author of this blog and a wine appreciator.  A sparkling wine enthusiast.

The Wines

Domaine Chandon N.V Brut  $24.95

Janz Premium curvee N.V   $24.95

Veuve Amiot (Loire Valley, France) $13.95


The Process

Three glasses were presented for each panel member.  Each of the glasses had been cleaned in a different way.

  • Wine flute #1 – Dishwashing detergent in the sink, rinsed and left to air dry.
  • Wine flute #2 – Placed into the dishwasher on rinse with hot water, no detergent and air dried.
  • Wine flute #3 – Hot water in the sink, no detergent and dried using a tea towel.

The Results


  • Wine flute #1 (detergent, rinsed) – within one minute of pouring the wine the bubbles began to flatten in the glass
  • Wine flute #2 (no detergent, air dried) – the wine remained vibrant and alive for the 15 minute trial period (we couldn’t wait any longer to drink it!)
  • Wine flute #3 (hot water, towel dried) – a slight reduction in ”bead” quality compared to flute #2 (no detergent, air dried)

Conclusion

The best cleaning method for sparkling wine glasses is to wash them in hot water (no detergent) and leave them to air dry or use a good quality linen tea towel.

Does putting a teaspoon in an opened bottle of champagne work to preserve your bubbles overnight ? – Tanya

” When a team of Stanford researchers put the idea to the test – all in a thirst for knowledge, and digging into their own pockets for research funds – they found that the spoon theory falls flat.”

http://news.stanford.edu/pr/94/941221Arc4008.html

Summary

My article titled “Wine tasting tips” (published 8/11/09) discourages the use of detergents but recommends washing your glasses in hot water and if a quick dry is necessary then a good quality linen tea towel is acceptable  (regular tea towels can leave lint or residue which can also flatten your bubbles).

The key points to consider are:

  • Allow enough time to prepare and clean your champagne flutes prior to use.  If they have been in the cupboard for a while than re wash them.
  • It is ideal to have good quality glasses, ie crystal flutes
  • A good quality sparkling wine should display excellent “bead” 15 minutes after pouring and beyond … and be able to store in the fridge overnight for drinking the next day.

On this last point I would have liked to have tested this theory but the sparkling wines were all excellent and completely consumed on the night !

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