There are few sounds more satisfying to the ear than the pop of a champagne cork.
But unless you’re a Formula 1 winner, opening a bottle should be accompanied by a pleasing thud – rather than a bang and a fountain of bubbles.
Now we know how to get the right noise every time, thanks to a British mathematician who has worked out the formula for the perfect pop.
Academic Eugenia Cheng says the fizz should be chilled for 40 minutes in an ice bucket – rather than a fridge – until it reaches 6.7C (44F).
The bottle should then be opened with slight hand pressure rather than wrenching at the cork.
All being well, it should shoot out with a sound appealing to the human ear, on the same range as birdsong.
Dr Cheng, an honourary fellow in the University of Sheffield’s maths and statistics department – and also a pianist – used computer software to analyse the ‘ring’ produced by erupting champagne corks
She found that the most desirable ring is at a constant level between 8,000 and 12,000 Hertz – a pitch referred to as ‘brilliance’ and comparable to cymbals and bird calls.
By chilling the bottle for longer, the bubbles inside have less energy. As less gas escapes, there is a more pleasant pop rather than a loud bang when the cork shoots out.
As a typical fridge only cools a bottle to 11 C, it needs to immersed in an ice bucket for 40 minutes to meet the optimum cork popping conditions of 6.7C.
Dr Cheng said: ‘The sound of a cork popping is undoubtedly associated with celebration, but there is contention around whether a pop should be loud and bubbly, or quiet and reserved, and I was intrigued to see what maths could tell us.’