Have you ever thought about how many bubbles might be bouncing upwards in a glass of sparkling wine? Personally, I hope not. If you’re having that thought instead of launching into the taste and checking out the smiling faces around you, you could have a problem that goes beyond the moment.

But apparently normal people have asked the question, although they mostly live in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France, where Dom Pierre Perignon is said to have invented Champagne in 1693. The story is mostly myth since sparkling wines were known in the Champagne region before medieval times. But it’s not a stretch to think that continuous exposure to sparkling wine for that long would stimulate questions that would never occur to people outside of the area.

So the prevailing wisdom in Champagne is that a typical glass of Champagne contains 15 million bubbles. What methods anyone might have employed to arrive at that number is beyond imagination. But whatever the method, it must have been convincing if the number caught on region-wide.

Gerard Lager-Belair, professor of physicist at the French Universite di Reims Champagne-Ardenne decided to affirm the number with actual scientific observation. First of all, Champagne is made by fermenting the wine in the bottle, the by-product being carbon dioxide. Once the cork is popped and the wine is poured into a glass, the carbon dioxide escapes in the form of bubbles, which will form on several spots on the glass. When they rise to the surface, they burst with a crackling sound and propel tiny droplets upwards, which are vehicles for aroma and flavor.

Using an ultra-high-resolution mass spectrometer, Gerard Lager-Belair observed that the bubble forming spots in the glass will launch about 30 bubbles per second. So by the time the wine goes flat, nearly two million bubbles have escaped. Not 15 million. That’s a fact. Happy Holidays!