Drinking champagne has always been associated with luxury, power and success, but there is now an even better reason to splash out and crack open a bottle of bubbly, as scientists claim that it could help to combat aging and dementia.

Scientists at Reading University gave a group of rats champagne for six weeks, and observed results against control groups given placebos and plain alcohol. The findings were very encouraging and indicated an improvement in spatial working memory in the rats, achieved through changes in hippocampal signalling and protein expression.

Red wine has previously been highlighted as the ‘healthy’ choice for those wanting a tipple, due to its antioxidant flavanoid content, but although champagne does not contain flavanoids, its active, health-promoting ingredients are thought to be smaller phenolic compounds such as gallic acid and tyrosol, components which had not previously been considered to be biologically active.

It still appears to be the red grape varieties which are used in the complex production of champagne, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, which contribute the active phenols, rather than the white grapes. This is still not an excuse to over-indulge; scientists suggest that 1-2 glasses per week may have a positive effect on health.