There is so much stemware associated with Champagne that is glamorous, delicate, and sophisticated — deciding what stemware to provide at your next soiree can be a pain in the neck. To help make the best decision for the moment, VinePair consulted Scarlett Carasco Polanco, sommelier at Petit Atelier in Minneapolis, Minn.
“What glass I am using really depends on the occasion,” she says. “Traditionally, you have flutes, coupes, and white wine glasses, but they all have a different feeling.”
A telltale signal of celebration across the world, the iconic Champagne flute is what most people reach for when it comes to enjoying bubbles. However, in the past few years, many wine professionals have started to turn their noses at the classic stemware. “The shape is a better visual experience — you can see the bubbles thread up the side of the glass,” says Carasco Polanco. “But the top is so small, it doesn’t allow you to enjoy the flavors and aromas of the Champagne as well.”
Smelling is such an important part of enjoying and experiencing wine that some research says that 80 percent of our sense of taste is olfactory. “When you drink out of a flute, you are drinking, not savoring,” says Carasco Polanco. “So people that drink with a bit more intention are leaning away from flutes. From the beverage industry perspective, too, they are so impractical — hard to store and easy to break.”
Coupes also provide an aesthetic appeal. Reminiscent of some “Great Gatsby”-like gala, they’ve recently become in vogue because of how romantic they look and feel. Coupes are typically made with much sturdier glass than flutes. They’re also easier to store and less prone to breakage, but they have the opposite problem that flutes do: The opening is so wide that the aromas become unconcentrated and can get lost.
Carasco Polanco’s favorite stemware to drink Champagne from is the Oregon Pinot glass. These glasses have considerably large bowls but flute toward the top and have a bit of a fluted lip. She also recommends a Burgundy glass. “I like these glasses because with Champagne, you can get so many different styles — some that are more minerally and smoky, others that taste like lemon pastry,” she says. “Glasses in these shapes help all the aromatic compounds come out.”
Deciding what stemware you ultimately use depends wholly on how you want to enjoy your Champagne and the mood you’re in. “Do you want the evening to feel like an old fashioned party? Coupes. Do you want to be super celebratory? Flutes. Are you sitting down with some close friends and are pairing the Champagne with something? Oregon Pinot glass,” says Carasco Polanco. “Not everything is about the technicality of tasting notes; things can be fun for no reason.”