Which Champagne glasses have etched nucleation points?

Dear Dr Vinny,

Which Champagne glasses have etched nucleation points?

—Lewis, Hayward, Calif.

Dear Lewis,

In sparkling wine, the bubbles of carbon dioxide in the liquid require a “nucleation site” to break free. In a wine glass or sparkling wine flute, it may be a natural surface imperfection or a speck of dust, but it is more likely to have been etched by the glass maker. These days, this is usually done by lasers at the bottom of the glass bowl. It’s so subtle you shouldn’t be able to see or feel the etches, but when a sparkling wine is poured you should see a cascading stream of bubbles from these nucleation sites.

Not all manufacturers will state whether or not their sparkling wine glassware includes pre-etched nucleation sites, but generally all quality sparkling wine stemware will have them. If you have older glasses at home and you’re worried they won’t have those bubble-causing imperfections, there are DIY options for the home handyman, including etching tools, putty engraving, diamond files and even coarse sandpaper. But I would recommend leaving the engraving to the experts.

Also remember that the solubility of carbon dioxide increases as the temperature drops – in other words, the hotter the drink, the louder and bigger the bubbles, and the faster all that carbonation escapes. If a bubbly is well chilled, there will be a slight flow of tiny bubbles which will last a long time as the carbon dioxide is slowly released.

—Dr. Vinny

Sarah C. Figueiredo