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08.24.2009

Testing the Old Spoon in the Champagne Bottle Trick

I don't know exactly when I was first told, but for years I've "known" that if you want to keep a bottle of opened Champagne from going flat, you drop a silver spoon into the neck of the bottle, handle first. Sort of like knowing you shouldn't go swimming for an hour after you eat, this trick with the spoon seems to be yet another proclamation from the infamous Department of They.

You know the one. "They" say you shouldn't go outside on a cold day with a wet head, because you'll catch a cold. Why not? Well that's just what they say.

Half the time, such conventional wisdom seems quite astute, and has even been proven to be right (I think someone actually did prove that wet heads in cold weather will increase the likelihood of catching a cold). The rest of the time, of course, it's utter hogwash.

I've never known which the old spoon trick actually was, or whether it mattered if the darn spoon was silver or not. Most of the time these days I have a rubber or a metal stopper to use. But on occasion when I don't, or when I'm away from home, I drop a spoon in the bottle just to be... well... safe, I guess.

Turns out I wasn't the only one with the passing notion that this business with the spoon might be a bunch of crap. Some of the science minded folks at Twee Jonge Gezellen estate in South Africa found themselves without enough to do last week (it is Winter down there, after all) and when challenged by the folks at GoTravel24 to actually prove their contention that the spoon trick actually worked, they decided to put this technique to the test with a bit of rigor.

Their test involved opening two bottles, pouring some wine from each, and then putting them back in the fridge, one with a spoon, the other without. The bottles were then removed at regular intervals, the temperature measured in each, new glasses poured, and photographed each time, along with a control glass poured from a brand new bottle.

After all the wine was good and drunk (and the researchers had recovered from being drunk as well), the photographs of the glasses were analyzed to count the bubbles to see whether, in fact the spooned bottle held more fizz over time.

I'm sure some full-time scientist could find all sorts of faults with the methodology -- certainly there are a lot of variables that determine how many bubbles are in a glass of sparkling wine, but for what it's worth, they saw a significant difference.

I'll let them share the final result. Read the full article.

Thanks to Kumkani winery for the link.

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