Are flutes out of tune with today’s Champagne drinkers?

Champagne GlassesFlute, coupe or glass – what’s the best way to serve everyone’s favourite fizz

Champagne has become synonymous with celebration, romance and indulgence, but while we are accustomed to serving it in the traditional flute, it may be time to rethink the ideal glassware for bubbly.

Flutes are great for retaining the bubbles, keeping Champagne cold and are more difficult to spill at a lively drinks reception. But their straight sides and narrow opening mean that delicate and complex aromas are often left woefully unappreciated.

Stefano Marro, head sommelier at Carvaggio restaurant, points out that the flute is designed to keep the wine sparkling as long as possible and, because of its long shape, can better display the persistence and consistency of the bubbles. However, it probably wasn’t really created to exalt the organoleptic properties of the wine”.

Enter the coupe. And with it, all those associations of mid-century glamour (think Joan from Mad Men) and the roaring twenties (think hedonistic house party a la Gatsby), not to mention its saucy origins... Legend has it that the original design for the Champagne coupe was modelled on Marie Antoinette’s left breast, a story which recently inspired Mayfair restaurant 34 to commission a coupe caste from Kate Moss’s bosom in honour of her 25 years in fashion.

Marc Farrell of Epernay Champagne Bar in Manchester says, “If a group come into the bar and look like they’re in the mood to celebrate, I’ll always suggest a coupe. They’re glamourous and look great in photographs, but you have to drink fast before the bubbles disappear, so they don’t work for people who really want to savour their Champagne.”

For those that do want to savour the complex aromas of a more premium Champagne, Marc recommends using “a more open wine glass, such as a Riedel Riesling glass”. So what do customers think? “It creates a conversation” he says. “Customers are surprised at first, but when staff explain the reason for serving their Champagne in a larger glass, they are pleased that we are trying to enhance their experience”.

Stefano agrees that this is the best way to serve, in particular, a vintage Champagne, “because the classic white wine glass shape is created to emphasise the aromatic properties of the wine”, and he sees the trend going more and more in this direction. But despite a growing number of restaurants adopting this approach, he still points out that a “large number of customers prefer the Champagne flute”. So perhaps the stock image of two clinking Champagne flutes will be with us for a while yet…

How do you prefer to serve Champagne? Let us know by tweeting @Bibendumwine

20th January 2016

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