Celebrations and popping champagne bottles go hand in hand. But champagne’s signature sound does raise the question: why do champagne bottles pop?
Champagne contains a lot of dissolved carbon dioxide gas. Champagne bottles pop upon opening due to the internal pressure inside the bottle caused by the dissolved CO2. When the cork pops out, it creates a supersonic shock wave that sends the cork flying out and that signature pop.
The speed and strength of a cork popping out can cause injuries. Opening a bottle the right way may help reduce these risks.
Champagne and Toasting to Celebrations
Champagne is one of the most popular and sought-after alcoholic beverages.
The popping sound of opening a champagne bottle signals the climax of any celebration.
The popping sound of a champagne bottle being opened is fun and all, but don’t you ever wonder what makes champagne bottles pop?
Why Does Champagne Pop?
All types of sparkling wine – champagne, cava, prosecco, or more – make a popping sound when their corks are twisted open.
Bottled champagne contains a lot of dissolved carbon dioxide gas. This large amount of CO2 inside the bottle creates internal pressure.
While the bottle is “at rest”, the walls of the bottle plus the cork sealing inserted into the bottleneck can withstand the internal pressure.
But once you start twisting the cork out of the bottleneck after removing the cork cage, what once was static friction inside the bottle converts to kinetic friction.
Once the cork pops out of the bottle, the pressurized CO2 gas inside the bottle will expand laterally. This forms a crown-shaped supersonic shock wave. Then, the pressurized gas will form a cylindrical supersonic jet. This forms a curved shock wave, known as bow shock, as it collides with the champagne cork.
Once opened, the pressure inside the bottle slowly drops and the champagne will then be ready for serving and pouring.
How Fast Do Corks Come Out of a Champagne Bottle?
Once popped out of the bottle, corks travel pretty fast. This is why it’s important to take extra precautions when popping open a bottle of champagne.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), a champagne cork can fly and shoot up to 50 mph. This speed is fast enough to shatter glass if ever it’s aimed at one.
You also have to keep in mind that popping open champagne corks, no matter how celebratory, has its risks. Champagne cork accidents do happen.
The most common champagne cork accident is when one hits the eye. When a cork hits the eye, it can cause bleeding, abrasions, and even glaucoma.
In fact, in 2019, reality star Theo Campbell was blinded in the right eye by a flying champagne cork. The cork flew into his eye and split his eyeball in half. Doctors were not able to get his vision back.
So next time you’re opening a champagne bottle, make sure to not direct it towards yourself or anyone else.
Pop Open a Champagne: The Right Way
The next time you have a party or celebration, opening a bottle of champagne the right way will make you look more like an expert rather than an amateur. Here’s all the correct ways to pop open champagne:
- Chill the champagne
Champagne and other sparkling wines should be chilled anywhere from 41°F to 45°F. Depending on the brew of your champagne, this could still vary so make sure to check the bottles or ask the seller.
Properly chilled champagne will further enhance its flavors and aroma.
- Dry the bottle
Chilled champagne can also be damp so make sure to dry the bottle with a towel. This will help you hold the bottle steady.
- Remove foil and cork cage
Next, remove both the foil and cork cage. This will reveal the cork and the opening of the bottle.
Keep the thumb of your dominant hand over the cork as you untwist and remove the cage. This will prevent the cork from prematurely popping due to the release of pressure.
- Hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle
With your non-dominant hand, hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle. Don’t direct the bottle at yourself or anyone else. Place a towel over the top of the bottle for extra safety from any flying corks.
- Twist the bottle, not the cork
With your dominant hand covering the cork and your non-dominant hand holding the bottle, twist the bottle, not the cork.
Gently twist the bottle at an angle to gradually push the cork out. This should give you a low fizzing whisper sound instead of a loud pop.
Lastly, serve the champagne to your guests.
The popping sound a champagne bottle makes once opened signals that the party is just getting started. But it does make one wonder: why do champagne bottles pop?
Champagne bottles pop once opened due to the internal pressure because of the dissolved carbon dioxide gas inside the bottle. Once the cork pops out, this creates a supersonic shock wave causing the cork to pop and make that distinguishable sound.
While this signature popping sound is often associated with celebrations, it comes with risks. Opening the bottle the correct way can ensure you avoid these risks at all costs.