How does your glass make a difference to Champagne?

Enhance the joy of champagne by selecting the perfect glass!

It wasn’t long ago that most of us would automatically reach for our flutes after opening champagne.  However, over the past year, the question has been raised as how to serve champagne to show it at its best.  We’ve known for forty years that a glass’ shape has an impact on your perception of aroma and flavour, so why do we continue to think differently for champagne?

We asked Mark Baulderstone, the Managing Director for Riedel Australia, to break down the different options of Champagne glasses and how they perform.


The Coupe

Rumour has it that this glass was designed on Marie Antoinette's left breast, but the glass actually predates the French Queen.  However the Coupe was popular during her time on the throne as champagne was sweeter and more syrupy, and the saucer’s short sides and shallow bowl allowed the user to dip cake in. 

The glass is now back in fashion, much to the disappointment of devout champagne lovers as the open-bowled design causes the bubbles to dissipate almost immediately.  But worse than this, you also lose aroma, which makes up 70% of our perception of flavour.  Looks good but, at about $60 a bottle in Australia, it’s better off for a cocktail than for Champagne.

 

The Flute 

Over the past fifty years, the champagne industry has done an amazing job at convincing us that champagne is a symbol for celebration.  As a result, champagne drinkers needed a glass that allowed the bottle to be shared among many – and the flute was born. The product 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 champagne, encouraging 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, flutes still won’t provide you the full aromatic profile.

 

The Glass

In the past year, conversation has grown 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 best shape for presenting the beverage in its most balanced and expressive form. 

Drinking champagne from a wine glass is about simply that – drinking.  It evolves champagne from something that is only for a toast, into something 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 a symbol: for celebration, for fun, for enjoyment.  The best champagne glass shape for you is based on how and when you enjoy champagne, 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 already enjoy it from your stemless O Wine Tumbler.  It’s just down to your preference.

However, if you count yourself amongst 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 warning is that we don’t recommend that you try this experiment in large numbers, as once you drink champagne from a wine glass, you may not want to share!