Sometimes Wives Tales are True

December 21, 2009

I actually learned this from Suzanne who is to be trusted on things of this sort.

The Mythbusters say it isn’t true but Bon Appetit says it is….  Having used the trick myself I can say that it works for me.

Bon Appetit

A friend recently asked how long she could store an opened bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine in the fridge. While it’s best to consume the bottle within hours of opening for optimal freshness, there are two options for storing bubbly in the refrigerator. The first, and most effective, is a Champagne stopper, which hermetically seals in freshness and effervescence for up to four days. The second method, frowned upon by wine snobs the world over and dismissed as an old wives’ tale, is to dangle the handle of a silver or silver-plated spoon into the bottle. I’ve found that the bubbly retains its fizz for about 24 hours, though it’s admittedly not as sprightly as when it was initially opened. But it is a fun and stylish party trick. Better yet, to avoid the issue altogether, finish the bottle—or look for producers offering half-bottles (375 ml) or half-splits (187 ml).

Lifehacker said this…

If you can’t finish a bottle of champagne after you’ve popped the cork, don’t dump it down the drain. Here’s a handy trick that might keep it fizzy and drinkable for at least another day.

Photo by Velo Steve.

Bon Appetit’s Heather John says grab a metal spoon and drop the handle into the neck of the champagne bottle. (A fork should work just as well, but skip the knife because you don’t want the utensil falling all the way into the bottle. )

John says that although the spoon-in-the-bottle trick has kept her champagne fresh for as long as 24 hours, it’s often denounced as nothing more than an old wives’ tale. The industrious folks over at Kumkani Wines decided to find out for themselves and ran a little experiment to find out whether this method really works. After what must have been an exhausting trial apparently involving a crate of champagne, a camera, and several weekends of imbibing (“It was a struggle, but we’ll do anything for science,” notes one of the, uh, researchers), they drew some final conclusions.

It turns out that putting a metal spoon in the neck of a champagne bottle does preserve much of its effervescence. The team also came up with a potential theory for why it works:

What we think is happening is that the spoon is acting as a radiator and when it hangs in the bottle, the air inside the neck of the bottle cools faster than the air inside a bottle without the spoon. Because we had measured the temperature drop inside each bottle we could confirm this.

Now, colder air is denser than warmer air, so the bottle with the spoon gets a ‘cold plug‘ on top of the wine sooner than the bottle without the spoon. The weight of this colder denser air means that less gas can escape so the bubbles are preserved. In addition, cold bubbly keeps more of its carbon dioxide in solution than warm.

Have you ever tried this method with leftover champagne? Got any extra insight on why it might work? More to the point, who actually ever has leftover champagne? Isn’t that like leaving one cookie in the bag? Enlighten us in the comments.

Update: Several readers are pointing out that MythBusters tackled the spoon trick and called it a myth, but for whatever it’s worth—and as our own intern Dustin points out—the MythBusters test is far more subjective than the Kumkani test. We’ll have to call this one inconclusive until we try it out ourselves.

Jeannette gave me this to keep my champagne bubbling…

Here’s to bubbly champagne.

Night.

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