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True or False: Champagne Should be Served in Flutes

Whether it’s a wedding, a job promotion or ringing in the New Year, celebrations big and small are seldom without the clinking of Champagne flutes. But do we really need to serve bubbles exclusively in these glasses? Is it necessary to buy a set of flutes for home if you’re likely to pull them out maybe once a year?

Firstly, I will say we should all be drinking bubbles more than once a year. Explore the worlds of Cava, Crémant and Prosecco – there’s a bottle of bubbles appropriate for just about every occasion.

Secondly, I will say no – bubbles don’t need to be enjoyed from flutes. I like an elegant glass of freshly popped Champagne in a tall, clean flute as much as the next guy, but it’s the taste of the beverage – not the glass – that makes the experience so good. And that taste can appreciated just as much from a regular old wine glass.

Let’s break down why.

Celebrations, big and small, are rarely without the clinking of Champagne flutes

A brief history lesson

  • Champagne flutes became a standard in the 18th century, as the tall thin glass minimises a liquid’s exposed surface area, allowing fewer bubbles to escape from carbonation, keeping the drink fizzier for longer
  • In the 19th century, flat coupes came into fashion (a trend which has been getting a bit of buzz again) – think fabulous parties with flowing Champagne towers; critics noted though that these wide rimmed glasses allowed bubbles to escape too quickly, causing Champagne to go flat fast

On aromatics 

  • Bubbles are fun, but to truly appreciate a wine (which after all is what Champagne is), aromatics play an essential role; a tall Champagne flute doesn’t really allow you to get your nose in the glass, or pick up any notes from the wine before it hits your palate – all you get are bubbles!
  • This isn’t to say flutes don’t make sense; some cheaper (but still great!) bottles of say, Prosecco, are more about the celebration and less about a premium wine; also, if you plan on nursing a glass of bubbles (which is rarely the case), a flute does keep the fizz longer, so would be a better option here

champagne tower

Coupes are great for the spectacle of a Champagne tower

A happy medium 

  • I am of the mind-set that you really only need one type of glass for any and all wines; sure some are better than others, but save those for special occasions, dining out, your favourite wine bar… at home, I like one type of wine glass that will suit any bottle
  • When it comes to Champagne or other bubbles, you of course don’t want your wine going totally flat – I find a tulip-shaped white wine glass is the perfect solution, as these glasses are a bit narrower than a red glass, preserving the signature fizz a glass of bubbles requires, but they are also wide enough to give you a better sense of the wine’s expression
  • For the reasons above, this tulip-shaped white wine glass is what I would choose above all else for a really good glass of vintage Champagne

A tulip-shaped white wine glass is perfect for enjoying a good bottle of bubbles

The main takeaway here is not that you shouldn’t drink bubbles from a flute, but rather that you don’t have to – either is certainly acceptable! Also, despite my position on a one-size-fits-all wine glass, I do keep a set of old vintage coupes at home because, well… they are just too pretty!

For more info on wine glass varieties and decanters check out this article. If you need to buy a bottle of bubbles for a special occasion, check out our article on How to Buy Wine for a Wine Snob.

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