What if I told you that there’s no good reason to drink sparkling wine out of a flute glass? Would you believe me? Well, that’s pretty much the consensus among wine pros. Here’s why your flute glasses aren’t doing your sparkling wines any favors – and what you should be using instead.
The main argument in favor of the flute is that is preserves the fizz, and there is definitely truth to this.
“Because of the slender shape, there is less surface area exposed to air, thus allowing the carbonation to remain in the wine longer,” says master sommelier Dustin Wilson. Plus, Wilson notes, “It’s visually pleasing to watch the bubbles go the length of the glass. Sparkling wine looks prettier in a flute.”
However, the same quality that makes the flute good for bubbles (its slender profile) makes it less than ideal for appreciating the wine.
“Due to the lack of surface area, the wine has less room to move around and therefore has less opportunity to express its aromatics,” explains Wilson. It’s really hard to swirl a flute – and you want to swirl.
“Swirling wine allows for the esters in the wine to be activated,” or, in layman’s terms, it lets you smell what you’re drinking.
Andre Mack, the founder of Mouton Noir Wines, says that the movement away from the flute coincided with the “Farmer Fizz” movement in the early 2000s and the notion that there is terroir in Champagne.
“Grape growers started bottling their own Champagne instead of selling to larger houses, which would blend from all over the region,” he says. “I ditched the flute in order to experience the subtle nuances.”
What about the wide, shallow coupe glass? That’s actually the worst of both worlds.
“It allows for so much surface area that bubbles dissipate quite quickly, and because the glass is so shallow, and often filled nearly to the top, there is little to no room for swirling with these glasses either,” notes Wilson. “The only advantage of a coupe glass for Champagne is that it makes it much easier to gulp the wine down quickly and it looks cool in those Champagne towers. Outside of that, it’s a terrible glass.”
So, what should you be sipping your preferred bubbles from? Turns out, the answer is really your standard-issue white-wine glass. It’s moderate in size, it has the depth to hold about 4 ounces, and enough width to allow swirling but not so much that bubble disappear too quickly.
Featured photo: Getty Images
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