No more worries, space tourists will be able to drink Champagne! – Meanderings through France n° 159
By Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny
The lucky few space tourists that will be able to afford a zero gravity flight in a near future will properly celebrate this trip of a life time drinking Champagne on board. It took the Mumm Champagne house three years to develop Mumm Grand Cordon Stellar, the first Champagne designed to be tasted in space. A maiden flight aboard an Airbus A-310 Zero-G developed by Novespace allowed testing this innovating bottle flying over Reims and the Champagne vineyards.
Will there still be bubbles? Will it taste the same? Will it be possible to pour it into a glass? All these problems were solved after years of research and put to the test in September 2018. Maison Mumm was the first to take an interest in the scientific constraints that the absence of gravity could pose on a gaseous liquid.
The expertise and knowhow of French astronaut Jean-François Clervoy veteran of three NASA space missions, and of Gérard Liger-Belair a world-renowned specialist of effervescence of Champagne were more than welcomed to participate in the project. Together they created a very special Champagne bottle as well as unheard of “glasses”.
Zero gravity flights are made possible by the succession of parabolic trajectories between 21,000 and 26,000 feet. First the plane climbs at an angle of 40° and as soon as it gets to its highest altitude, it descends back to the lowest one. After a strong acceleration that pushes their bodies to the floor, the travellers suddenly feel as light as a feather and float in the cabin. It’s time to drink a toast!
Instead of a regular glass the space tourists hold a glass artefact looking like a tee. Then the cork pops with its usual “ground” sound. To allow the wine out of the bottle the sommelier pulls a trigger set at the bottle base and sets off a secret mechanism hidden in the bottle’s neck. The Champagne won’t flow in its usual liquid form, but a cloud of white foam gets out of the bottle and starts floating in the air before splitting into small spheres. Holding their tee-glasses the travellers “chase” the bubbles of Champagne foam that easily stick to the glass and swallow them. Once in the mouth the foam immediately turns back to its liquid form and the Mumm Grand Cordon Stellar’s unique flavours explode.
Considering that the zero gravity experience lasts only 20 seconds it needs to be fast to enjoy this very special moment before the plane starts its way down. The travellers are again pushed to the floor as well as the remaining balls of Champagne that turn into a golden rain! Wine expert Raimonds Tomsons who participated in the first official zero gravity tasting of Mumm Champagne said that the weightlessness concentrates and intensifies the expression of fruit even more than it is on Earth.
This is the way testing flights are but soon Space X, Amazon or Virgin will propose space tourism and commercial suborbital flights that will take you from Europe to America in just one hour. Undoubtedly the process will evolve and “mere” space tourists will have an easier way to enjoy Champagne. No need to say that Champagne Mumm will be an essential part of this new way to travel. Have your tee-glass ready!
Text ©Annick Dournes
Photos courtesy of Maison Mumm Champagne/Novespace