A Few Tips About Glassware/Stemware For Champagne
Choosing stemware is like everything else to do with wine, the only opinion that counts is your’s.
Having aid that it’s useful to bear in mind what the famous English artist and writer William Morris once said
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
Fortunately with stemware the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Coupe or Flûte?
There are two basic styles of champagne glass: the shallow, saucer-shaped glass called a coupe and the tall, narrow style called a flûte. Whichever style you select it’s worth giving some thought to your choice because it can make a big difference to your enjoyment of the champagne.
The flûte has several advantages if you really want to appreciate the champagne you’re drinking. First you can see the stream of bubbles rising up the length of the glass and the bubbles, after all, are one of the main pleasures of champagne.
Second and more important, the tall, narrow shape focuses the aromas so that when you raise the glass to drink you can also smell and enjoy the full concentration of the aromas. That’s why the most effective flûtes curve slightly inwards at the top (like the shape of a tulip), whilst those that open out at the top (like the shape of a lily) allow some of the aromas to escape.
Coupe glasses can be a lot of fun. For me they evoke images of decadent cocktail parties in the 1920s with people doing the Charleston, but they go back a lot further than that because
legend has it that the shape was modelled on Marie Antoinette’s breast.
I think coupes are great for serving champagne cocktails, but equally some people can’t get the less flattering connection with the cheap 60’s drink Babycham, out of their minds.
The main drawback of the coupe is that the aromas of the champagne dissipate sideways very rapidly and you simply don’t get the concentration of aromas that you can appreciate with a flûte.
Another story you often hear about coupe glasses is that the bubbles disappear more quickly than in a flûte. This is another old wives’ tale which for all intents and purposes is of no practical value. The bubbles in champagne just don’t disappear in a few minutes, even in a coupe glass – it takes an hour, or much more, for champagne to lose its sparkle. I don’t know how long it takes you to finish a glass of champagne, but in my case it’s a matter of minutes, not hours, so I shouldn’t pay much attention to this particular myth about coupe glasses.
Washing the glasses
Whichever type of stemware you choose make sure that you never use rinse aid when you’re washing them. This creates a film on the inside of the glass that inhibits the formation of the bubbles. Use rinse aid and you’ll end up with sparkling glases but no sparkle in your champagne.
For exactly the same reason it’s also best not to use detergent.
The best method is simply to wash the glasses in hot (and I mean very hot) water and let them dry naturally. If necessary polish them with a dry cloth and that’s it.