Which is the best glass to serve champagne?
Perhaps more than for any other wine, glassware is of great importance when serving champagne. But with the vast array of glassware currently available, choosing the perfect glass from which to best savour champagne may require far more discrimination than at first glance. A good champagne glass should be unadorned and without any unnecessary embellishments, so that the drinker will be able to enjoy champagne’s beautiful, tawny colour. The glass should not feel too fragile at the stem or too top heavy, and it should be pleasant to hold but strong enough to withstand even the most rigorous festivities. Most of all the glass should be tall and narrow.
If you’ve ever seen stars from the golden age of Hollywood partaking of champagne—say Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story, or Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne in Love Affair—you will recognise the coupe: a short stemmed cup with a flat mouth and wide rim. During the glamourous, post-prohibition haze of 1930s America, the coupe was the champagne glass of choice, and its popularity continued well into the 1960s. While the coupe has lots of associations with period glamour, it is—according wine experts—not the ideal glass from which to imbibe bubbly. A truly great champagne experience relies on two important factors: the champagne must be chilled and the bubbles generous. Unfortunately, the coupe’s wide mouth means that a greater surface area of the wine is exposed to the air, leading bubbles to dissipate at a much faster rate and, ultimately, results in a very tepid, unexciting glass of champagne. The shape of the coupe also means that the drinker is likely to cradle the bulb of the glass in their hands, inadvertently warming the sparkling wine to a lukewarm temperature. The glamourous coupe was in fact not designed for the dry champagnes of today, but for much sweeter concoctions—champagnes laced with potent liqueurs—for which carbonation was a less important factor.
In contrast, the flute is ideal for appreciating modern champagnes. The flute’s long narrow shape means that the bubbles are encouraged to rise and yet not dissipate quickly. According to experts, a suitable flute will allow an undisturbed glass of champagne to keep its effervescence for a good 45 minutes. The flute’s small mouth also ensures that the champagne hits the palate in a narrow but strong, steady stream, providing the drinker with a much more potent hit of effervescence than the coupe. Some flutes today are designed with the requisite narrow top but are also fitted with a rounded bulb shape at the base. This design is seen as ideal because it sustains the mousse of the champagne while allowing the drinker to best appreciate champagne’s fragrant, delicate aroma. Finally, when choosing a suitable brand of flute to buy, note that even ordinary glass champagne flutes are generally considered very effective. However, if you are interested in investing in a quality flute, it would be hard to make a better bet than a Baccarat crystal.
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