Reaching fizzy heights

(by susie & peter)

Have you ever kicked back in your plane seat, sipped your glass of champagne and wondered: why does this taste different from how it normally does?

We’ll be the first to admit it’s not the most pressing thought in such circumstances, but the subject of what happens to our sense (taste and smell included) at altitude is of considerable interest to wine and food lovers.

Champagne Taittinger sensed an opportunity to put some boffins, booze and a balloon together – and niftily craft a PR opportunity along the way.

We recently received a press release from the good folk at Taittinger, which you can view by clicking on the link below.

Taittinger’s bubbles at altitude research

Reading it is a vaguely surreal experience, especially the diagram featuring what must surely be one of the most convoluted mathematical equations ever to have been levelled at fizzy wine. (But never fear: it comes with a handy layman’s explanation in bitesize gobbits, all contained in reassuring bubble shapes.)

Received wisdom has it that flavours and aromas become muted at altitude, meaning it’s the more flavoursome dishes and wines that show better.

As far as we can make out, this new research – which involved tastings in the hot air balloon at 2,500ft, 5,000ft, 7,500ft and 10,000ft – indicates that bubbles get bigger at altitude, and aromas become slightly more muted.

Apparently, it’s all to do with the second law of thermodynamics.

We scent an opportunity for further study…