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September 11, 2004
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  Secrets of Champagne    

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Valentineís Day is arguably the most romantic day of the year, and what better way to celebrate it than with the most romantic of beverages, champagne? But how do you keep the champagne from going flat, for that second sip the morning after?

There are lots of old wives tales about the best way to keep the bubbles in the bubbly once the cork has been popped. Richard Zare, a professor of chemistry, took it upon himself to separate the fact from the fiction.

Zare found that an open bottle of champagne is best stored in exactly that state, left open in the refrigerator. He tested various wivesí tales as to the best way to store champagne including dangling a silver spoon from the mouth of the bottle.

Zare also found that there was a difference between the way men and women drink champagne. A woman going for a refill with a lipstick stained glass will be likely to get less fizzy champagne than her male counterpart. Why? Lipsticks contain surfactants, compounds found in soap that reduce the surface tension of the champagne and allow the dissolved gas to escape more quickly. Thus, while a lipstick-free manís glass continues to fizz with a foamy head right after being poured, a womanís champagne will fall flat as the champagne comes into contact with left-over lipstick.

Richard Zare has written many papers and is a renowned chemist. Some of his papers include:

"Interdisciplinary Research: From Belief to Reality," Norman Metzger and Richard N. Zare, Science, vol. 283, pp. 642-643 (1999)

"Probing Individual Molecules with Confocal Flourescence Microscopy," S. Nie, D.T. Chiu, and R.N. Zare, Science, vol. 266, pp. 1018-1021 (1994)

"Photoionization Dynamics of the NO A2sigma+ Sate Deduced from Energy-and-Angle-Resolved Photoelectron Spectroscopy," H. Park and R.N. Zare, J. Chem. Phys., vol. 99, pp. 6537-6544 (1993)

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