ChampagneFilter: glasses or flutes?
March 23, 2007 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Champagne: glasses or flutes?

Cosmetics aside, what is the difference between a champagne glass (pictured here) and a champagne flute (pictured here)?

Which would best promote aroma and enhance flavor?

(Let's not even bother bringing champagne coupes, i.e. saucers, into the discussion.)
posted by stance to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The glass is designed to be held by the stem to help prevent the heat from the hand from warming the champagne. The bowl itself is designed in a manner to help retain the signature carbonation in the beverage. This is achieved by reducing the surface area at the opening of the bowl. The small horizontal diameter is designed so that more glasses of champagne can be placed onto a tray. ^
posted by phaedon at 9:23 AM on March 23, 2007

the above was intended to refer to the flute even though it uses the word glass.
posted by phaedon at 9:28 AM on March 23, 2007

Flutes enhance the experience by retaining the bubbles. It has a smaller surface area to volume ratio. Also, the track of the bubbles up the flute is aesthetically pleasing.
posted by caddis at 9:29 AM on March 23, 2007

I'm going to call that wiki wrong. I've always read that the "small horizontal diameter" (pleonastic, much?) is to retain carbonation. I can't imagine why anyone would design a wineglass just for convenience of tray serving. The butler with the tray of flutes is pretty much reserved for weddings, galas and movies.
posted by pineapple at 9:34 AM on March 23, 2007

pineapple: Champagne is also pretty much reserved for weddings, galas, and movies ;)

phaedon: The champagne glass (not flute) is also meant to be held by the stem (as are all wine glasses, minus the at-the-moment-too-cold glass of white) and is also narrow (though not as narrow, sure).

I just wonder if there would be a difference with aromatics and flavor between the two. Does the slightly-wider glass promote better aroma but lose the bubbles (and mouthfeel) more quickly?
posted by stance at 9:46 AM on March 23, 2007

Since you do care about enhancing the flavor and aroma, I bet you'd enjoy a taste test using one of each available shape. Unfortunately, I don't think you'd be able to try the glasses without knowing which is which. In my champagne-drinking experience, which is moderate, I haven't noticed a difference between the tulip-shaped glass and the narrow flute when it come to bubbles. To me, the wider tulip is more enjoyable to drink from; I always attributed this to its allowing access to the wine's aroma.

Other considerations: flutes, full or empty, seem to actively try to slide/jump off a tray that's being carried. The tall, narrow shape means you have to tilt your head way back to drink once the glass is half-empty. The base tends to be small, so it's easy to knock the glass over. The height is often inconvenient for storage in normal kitchen cabinets. They're hard to clean, and since you typically don't use them a lot, they usually need to be washed before being used, even if you put them away clean.

BUT almost everyone you serve champagne to "knows" that flutes are better, even though they're (IMO) not. I'm a little embarrassed to say that this last is the reason why I've always used flutes.

Damn, I'm buying some tulip glasses. Today.
posted by wryly at 10:08 AM on March 23, 2007

As long as you avoid those dumb-assed champagne coupe/sherbet glasses that are like the antithesis of everything a champagne glass should be, I'd bet it wouldn't make a noticeable difference unless you're serving very, very good champagne to very, very knowledgeable drinkers.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:16 AM on March 23, 2007

What wryly said. Flutes are for light, fresh, young champagnes, where that sensation is the main reason for drinking them -- you'll get the tingle of the bubbles right on the tip of your tongue. The tulip-style glasses are better at conveying the aroma, thanks to their shape, and also because they tend to have a larger volume, so there's no need to fill them up so much.
posted by chrismear at 10:19 AM on March 23, 2007

As an aside, the reason for the traditional coupe was that it was used to serve the sweeter, almost dessert champagne that they drank back then. As everyone says, it's not right for the dry style of champagne we have today.
posted by chrismear at 10:24 AM on March 23, 2007

Flute is better in general. It's about carbonation and the mouthfeel that carbonation lends to champagne. People don't like it when carbonated beverages go flat.

However, apparently the bubbles mute the flavors somewhat and exposure to air often enhances wine flavors so some people think expensive champagnes should be decanted to increase the air exposure and decrease the carbonation somewhat. In those cases, the wider bowl is better - allows some decantation. Here's a wine forum thread discussing the topic of champagne & taste & carbonation in depth. More links within the thread.

(And I disagree about champagne being resered for weddings and galas.)
posted by Amizu at 10:30 AM on March 23, 2007

Champagne is also pretty much reserved for weddings, galas, and movies ;)

Speak for yourself, sir/madam. </haughty scoff> Kidding aside, it's the wine of choice in my house and I believe we should reclaim it from the pedestal of "special occasion only." I order Champagne and inevitably get a knowing "Aha, what's the big event?" from the waiter -- who is inevitably nonplussed when I reply, "It's... Tuesday?"

Also, wryly, you sold me, I'm getting some tulips.
posted by pineapple at 10:43 AM on March 23, 2007

I find myself in complete agreement with chrismear. The $10 bottle of Maison Deutz I like out of a flute; when I have the rare pleasure to drink some vintage champagne, though, I drink it out of a special glass I keep kicking around just for the purpose, that looks a lot like that so-called tulip glass. It concentrates the nose, which in really nice champagnes can be lightly fruity or flowery. The nose of your everyday champagne in contrast I find to be acrid and vinegary and I don't care if the flute bubbles it away.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:09 AM on March 23, 2007

Thanks guys, this all makes sense. As for the champagne reservations: I agree, we shouldn't have any. Drink and be merry, whether holiday or Tues.
posted by stance at 12:14 PM on March 23, 2007

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