09 Jan Choosing the right Champagne glass
It wasn’t long ago that we’d automatically reach for the flutes when pouring Champagne. In recent years, however, the question of whether this is the best method of serving sparkling wine has been raised. We’ve long known that the shape of a glass has an impact on your perception of aroma and flavour, so why stick to the same-old formula when it comes to fizz?
We ask Mark Baulderstone, Managing Director of Riedel Australia, to break down the different options for Champagne glasses and how they perform.
Rumour has it that the design of this glass was modelled on Marie Antoinette’s left breast, but it actually predates the French queen. However the coupe was popular during her time on the throne as Champagne was sweeter and more syrupy then, and the saucer’s short sides and shallow bowl meant the drinker could dip cake in.
The coupe is in vogue once more, much to the dismay of devout Champagne lovers. The open-bowled design causes the bubbles to dissipate almost immediately, but worse than this you also lose aroma, which accounts for 70 per cent of our perception of flavour. The coupe looks great, but it’s better for a cocktail than Champagne.
Over the past 50 years, the Champagne industry has done an amazing job of convincing us that the drink is synonymous with celebration. As a result, Champagne drinkers needed a glass that allowed the bottle to be shared among many – enter the flute. The glass itself now symbolises festivity: if you turn up to a friend’s place and see flutes on the bench, you know you’re in for a good time!
The flute’s slim design makes it perfect for toasting and provides a measured pour. Flutes also enhance the bead, as they feature a small scratch at the base that agitates the wine and encourages it to stay bubbly as you drink. The downside is that, as with the coupe, it doesn’t give you a very good expression of aroma due to its thin opening. While it’s ideal for a toast, a flute won’t provide you with the full aromatic profile.
In the past year, there’s been a lot of conversation about whether we’re all better off ignoring the bubbles in Champagne and treating it like any other wine. We’ve hosted numerous workshops to find the shape that presents the beverage in its most balanced and expressive form.
Drinking Champagne from a wine glass is about just that – drinking. It evolves Champagne from something simply for toasting, into a wine worthy of savouring and enjoying. Our Veritas series was the first in the world to feature a glass designed specifically for drinking Champagne, featuring a curved, egg-shaped bowl with a small opening to envelop aroma. Its modest bowl size develops the aromas without overwhelming them, particularly in vintage Champagnes where time has allowed the characteristics to become more complex.
Ultimately, Champagne is not just a drink, but also a symbol for celebration, fun and enjoyment. The best Champagne glass for you will be determined by how and when you enjoy it, what styles you like to drink, and what you’re comfortable with. While we wouldn’t recommend drinking vintage Champagne out of a plastic cup, maybe you can’t go past the classic flute, or you really enjoy it from your stemless O Wine Tumbler. It’s just down to what you prefer. However, if you count yourself among those who’d walk over hot coals for a glass of Champagne, we do suggest a glass comparison next time you’ve opened something special. Our only recommendation is not to try this experiment with a large group, as once you drink Champagne from a wine glass, you may not want to share!
For more premium drinking utensils, including wine, spirit and beer glasses, browse the full range at riedelglass.com.au