This article was originally published on December 31, 2014.
New Year's Eve is here, which means it's definitely Champagne season. Just in time, the latest Reactions video from the American Chemical Society is here to tackle your extremely important questions about the beverage. How does Champagne get its bubbles? Why is popping a cork so satisfying?
As the video explains, only bubbly made with grapes from the Champagne region of France can officially be called "Champagne." But, any bottle of sparkling wine obeys Henry's law, meaning that the pressure of the gas inside the bottle above the liquid is proportional to the amount of gas dissolved within the solution. Before the cork is popped, the gas in the champagne is in equilibrium with the gas sitting between the liquid and the cork. When you uncork a bottle, that delicate balance is thrown out of whack, sometimes causing foam to rush out. Once the wine has settled in a glass, however, the dissolved gas leaves via bubbles, and equilibrium is restored.
If you're ringing in 2016 with a glass of bubbly, take a second to appreciate the carbonated wonder in your hands. Then, have an excellent new year.