Why would opening a bottle of shaken champagne at 45 degrees result in no bubbles?

04 October 2016

Question

In my more reckless years I had a party piece, which was to shake a bottle of expensive champagne violently for a period of time. Then open it. So long as I opened the bottle at about 45 degrees, there would be no bubble coming out whatsoever. What's actually going on?

Answer

Caroline Steel attempted to recreate Paul's party trick...

Georgia - Right. We're going to try and recreate this now so are you ready to shake?

Caroline - Yes, I'm ready.

Chris - Mind my car!

Georgia - Let's go.

Caroline - Okay, right. So I'm shaking it and now I'm going to try and pull the cork off at forty-five degrees. Oh no, I'm going to shake a bit more.

Gerogia - It's that awful moment when you can't pull it off.

Chris - It's not quite F1, is it?

Caroline - Hear we go - it's slowly edging. Pop.. and yes, there was a lot of foam.

Georgia - We're filming this and we'll put the video up later but, actually not that much came out. We've still got a bit but it did fizz all over the place. So,should this have worked?

Caroline - Yes, so it should have worked. Because I tilted it at forty-five degrees, I increased the surface area of the liquid inside the bottle so there should have been enough space for the foam to form and not fizz out. But I think what I did wrong was I didn't quite get it at forty-five degrees because I was trying to hard to pull it off that I didn't allow there to be enough surface area for the foam to form so it spilled out. So I'll try again another time but.

Georgia - I'm afraid we've only got the one bottle for now.

Caroline - But yeah. I need some practice.

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