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It’s a common question: Are delicate, stretched and slender Champagne flutes better than the shallow and squat coupe glasses that were fashionable during the Roaring Twenties? Other wine lovers wonder if there’s a need for a specific glass for sparkling wine.
Like most elements of wine appreciation, it comes down to a matter of preference. The serving temperature and glass you use will affect the taste and enjoyment of whichever wine or sparkling wine you are serving. Pour the same wine into different glasses and you’ll see differences in intensity of aroma, range of flavours and possibly even texture (how the wine feels in your mouth).
Champagne houses and sparkling wine producers originally embraced tall flutes because they emphasize the bubbles in the wine. It also put an air of sophistication on the product.
Having a different glass to serve a sparkling wine put it in a different realm than conventional wine.
But as consumption of still wine increased in the 1980s, 1990s and beyond, sparkling and Champagne sales didn’t keep pace. It was typecast as a wine for special occasions. Some consumers may not consider it as a wine option.
More recently, Champagne houses started to show their bubbly in white wine glasses to reveal more of their aroma and flavour compared to a flute glass’s narrow shape. Most top producers, including well-known houses such as Krug, Perrier-Jouët and Veuve Clicquot, have made custom glasses to showcase the best attributes of their individual cuvées. Houses such as Veuve Clicquot, which use more pinot noir in the blend of their base wines, tend to have more balloon shaped glasses.
During a virtual tasting last month, Veuve Clicquot chef de cave Didier Mariotti told me it’s rare to see flutes used these days. “I see more and more people drinking Champagne in a white wine glass more than a flute here in France.”
In the coming weeks and months, as restaurants reopen and guests gather around tables in greater numbers, it will be interesting to see what sommeliers and waiters will use for sparkling wine and Champagne.
When it comes to serving and enjoying bubbly at home, there have always been elements to consider. Which types of glasses are available? If you have flutes or coupes, are there enough for everyone?
My choice is to use conventional white wine glasses. Getting rid of my flutes has created much needed space in my cupboard and I enjoy the character of the sparkling wine more while still having the opportunity to watch the bubbles dance in the glass.