What if I told you that there's no good reason to drink your Champagne 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.
Why the Flute Isn't the Best Glass
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. Wilson also 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 Champagne. "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, put 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 Coupe Glass?
When it comes to Champagne, the coupe glass is 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, who has strong opinions on the matter. "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."
Mack agrees: "The coupe glass was invented during a time when Champagne was consumed mainly in large gulps, much like a shot, and very quickly. I think this glass best serves cocktails and not any type of sparkling wine at all."
This Is the Best Glass for Champagne
So, what should you be sipping your preferred bubbles from? Turns out, the answer is really your standard-issue wine glass. For Wilson and Mack, their go-to is the Zalto Denk'Art Universal Glass, which works for just about anything you're pouring. Wilson also likes the Riedel VINUM Sauvignon Blanc Glass, but there are plenty of more affordable options. (We like the this Spiegelau Winelovers White Wine Glass Set.)
In general, you're looking for what many people would consider a normal "white wine" glass. Wilson suggests "one which is moderate in size, has a nice-sized bowl in both depth as well as width, and allows for about four ounces of the wine to be poured into it."