All of these glasses are used in France for Champagne
Most of us remember the 1950-80's glass de rigeuer for Champagne was the flat shaped coupe with a shallow bowl. Legend has it that this shape originated in France and was designed with the shape of Marie Antoinette's breasts in mind. (However, it's incorrect as the coupe shape for sparkling wine actually was designed in England some 100 ears before the birth of France's famous Queen.)
Americans in the late 1980’s began seeing the coupe change to a tall flute. The new shape was preferred over the earlier saucer model as the flute showcased the rise of the bubbles perfectly. Coupes were soon ditched and re-purposed for use with desserts or appetizers, and everyone jumped on the flute bandwagon. Then a new shape appeared.
I remember the first time I saw the new tulip shape. It was actually in the Champagne district of France 10-15 years ago. The tulip had a wider bowl and tapered in slightly at the top. The wider bowl supposedly allowed more aromas to be collected in the glass. This shape’s tapered top was also advantageous in that it supposedly trapped the wine’s aromas.
So, what is the perfect glass for a sparkling wine? Wine-Knows’ last trip in 2013 to Champagne was a mixed bag of stemmware. We visited the esteemed and internationally powerful Champagne Growers Professional Association, along with Veuve Clicquot, and a private dinner in the magnificent dining room of the Moet estate. Meals were also held at the Champagne region’s best restaurants including a Michelin star. At most venues Champagne appeared in the tulip shaped glass, although at a couple events a flute was used.
In 2019 Wine-Knows is returning to Champagne. You can bet one of the questions that I intend to ask at each stop is how the glass shape effects the wine experience? A follow-up question will be posed regarding science that supports any differences in preferred glass shapes. We still have a few openings on this trip. Let us know if you’re interested in joining the group and learning these answers from the professionals.