If you enjoy fine champagnes and sparkling wines, then having the right glasses is worth the investment!
Whether you are celebrating a wedding, anniversary, New Year’s Eve or other special occasion, champagne or sparkling wine in fine champagne glasses makes the perfect complement to any celebration.
But what are the right shape, size and brand of champagne glasses to buy? Read on and learn the basics of selecting and buying quality champagne glasses into which to pour your bubbly.
What Type of Champagne Glass to Buy?
What should you look for when buying quality Champagne glasses?
A tall tulip-shaped flute is what most experts suggest you use to serve champagne; the small mouth and tall shape of a champagne flute slows the movement of the bubbles, allowing expensive champagne to retain its effervescence longer and concentrating the aroma better than other shapes.
Typically containing six to eight ounces of champagne, the flute’s narrow opening traps and concentrates the aroma and helps preserve the chill of the wine, whereas a glass with a wide bowl allows the aroma to escape and the wine flatten quickly.
Champagne Saucer or Coupe
While coupes may be sensuous (rumors abound that these wide-bowled champagne glasses were originally cast from the breasts of various famous women), they don’t make the best glasses for sipping fine champagne or sparking wines!
For many people, the image of a champagne glass is all wrong; the wide mouth saucer or coupe shape bowl is actually to be avoided! A wide bowl lets all the bubbles escape and your sparkling wine or expensive French champagne goes flat and warms up very quickly with a lot of surface area.
Sparkling Wine Glasses
Over the years, a number of unique shapes and playful designs have evolved in the world of sparkling wine glasses. Some of the more popular styles of sparkling wine glasses enable the stem to be filled as well as the bowl or flute.
Once consumed only on very special occasions, only wines crafted in the champagne region of France qualify as true champagnes, today you can find any number of superior sparkling wines from around the world and sparkling wines have become extremely popular in recent years. Many people prefer a sparkling wine or champagne over other wines these days, even for everyday enjoyment.
If design and appearance are more important to you than pure function, then these designer-oriented sparkling wine glasses can be a nice addition to your stemware collection, but the fact that your hands warm the sparkling wine more quickly when the stem is filled may outweigh the nice look some of these glasses!
Champagne Flutes concentrate the flavor and aroma of a Champagne or sparkling wine, making it the ideal shape.
Crystal or Glass Champagne Glasses?
The question often comes up whether crystal or glass is the better choice when selecting glassware for champagne and sparkling wine. Glass contains a mixture of sand, soda ash, marble, dolomite, potash and borax. These elements are heated to approximately 105ºC (221ºF) to create a molten batch of glass.
Crystal is made by adding lead oxide to the batch (24% or more of the batch will be lead in this case), making it tougher than regular glass. The lead content makes a glass appear to be more ‘sparkly’ since it is more refractive than normal glass. The irony is that since lead crystal glassware costs more, people will tend to treat it with more care than regular glassware, despite the fact that it is actually more durable!
Champagne Glass Storage and Care
First of all, if you do purchase fine crystal champagne or sparkling wine glasses, use them! You don’t have to treat them any differently than other glassware. Wash your glasses soon after using them and hand dry to prevent clouding or water marks.
You can put them in the dishwasher but hand washing is fine; the main thing is to be sure the glasses are rinsed thoroughly and hand dried with a lint-free linen towel to keep them clean and free of streaks or water marks.
Never expose your fine champagne glasses to rapid changes in temperature as this could damage them; for instance if you just took them out of the hot dishwasher and put them into the freezer you’d be asking for trouble. Champagne glasses should be used at room temperature and not chilled in a freezer or ice bucket anyway!
Chilling and Pouring Champagne
A good sparkling wine or champagne is best enjoyed well chilled; ideally, you want to pour from the bottle at 7 ºC (43 to 48 ºF). Any colder and you’ll miss out on the complex aroma and taste, much warmer and you’ll be really disappointed.
Don’t chill the glasses though; just the bottle before you uncork it; don’t leave it in the freezer … an ice bucket is the best way to chill champagne to get the right balance of the alcohol.
Tilt your champagne flute when you pour to prevent building up a ‘head’; unlike good beer, the sugars and alcohol in a fine sparkling wine is best appreciated with the bubbles in the liquid not let to escape by pouring too quickly from bottle into glass.