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How much pressure do the bubbles in a bottle of sparkling wine pack?

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The question

How much pressure do the 58 million bubbles in a bottle of sparkling wine pack?

The answer

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The pressure inside a typical bottle of bubbly is somewhere between five and six atmospheres, or 73 to 88 pounds per square inch, which is considerable. That's roughly three times the pressure inside a car tire. And if you've ever tried to let out the air in a tire (vandals, I'm talking to you), you'll know it represents a lot of gas. In the case of Champagne and other sparkling wines, that fizz is, of course, carbon dioxide, which forms naturally as yeast feed off grape sugars. While under the sealed pressure of a cork-topped bottle, the carbon dioxide remains liquid and escapes as a gas only when the cork is popped. A standard 750-millilitre bottle of bubbly contains about 7.5 grams of dissolved CO2, which – if permitted to go flat – would release about five litres of gas. Guzzle that bottle quickly and you're in for one very large burp.

As an aside, I'm impressed that you were able to cite 58 million as the bubble number. That is indeed roughly the count often quoted. But it's more theoretical than accurate. For one thing, some of the dissolved carbon dioxide manages to escape without forming bubbles, and the bubbles vary in size. So, the true number is likely much lower than what you cite.

The Flavour Principle by Lucy Waverman and Beppi Crosariol (HarperCollins) won top prize for best general English cookbook at the 2014 Taste Canada Food Writing Awards.

E-mail your wine and spirits questions to Beppi Crosariol. Look for answers to select questions to appear in the Wine & Spirits newsletter and on The Globe and Mail website.

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