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Nothing says "celebrate!" quite like a bottle of sparkling wine or Champagne (FYI, Champagne is a type of sparkling wine made from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France and produced used the Méthode Champenoise). It's light and refreshing enough to be served on its own but pairs well with party foods galore. Plus, the sound of a cork popping triggers an uncontrollable compulsion within us to toast a holiday/married couple/new baby/Tuesday night and probably ugly cry some tears of joy, too. There's just something about those little bubbles.
Why We Serve Sparkling in Flutes
Speaking of bubbles, carbonation is the reason we serve Champagne in flutes. The thin, elongated profile of a Champagne flute is designed to showcase the effervescence inside, and there's really no denying that flutes are aesthetically pleasing. But wine professionals, sommeliers, and sparkling wine producers alike agree that the narrow design of a flute "mutes" the aroma, flavor, and complexity of your bubbly.
Vino experts also affirm that swirling your glass before you sip helps you smell and experience the wine's unique characteristics, but because flutes tend to be thin and top-heavy, swirling isn't really an option. "A Champagne flute may feel celebratory, but it restricts airflow to the wine, dampening its aroma and flavors," says Maximilian Riedel, CEO and President of renowned wine glass company Riedel. "It actually makes Champagne smell yeasty, and the tall shape allows bubbles to escape directly out of the top of the glass."
It's a shame to serve or sip any wine in a way that keeps it from living its best-tasting life, but this is especially soul-crushing if you've spent a lot on a bottle for a special occasion.
So What's the Better Way to Serve Sparkling Wine?
The great news is that it's easy, obvious, and something you already own: A standard white wine glass. The fuller, rounder, and more open shape of the glass allows your sparkling wine to more readily express its unique flavor profile and characteristics—there's (literally) more space for your nose and taste buds to experience what you're sipping.
Coupes Are Equally Ineffective
Good to know: The facts about flutes go for serving sparkling wine in coupes, too. They've got unbeatable 1920's flapper-party flair, but according to Riedel, they also diminish the character of your bubbly.
"A coupe does not have any redeeming qualities when Champagne is served in it: the wide bowl fails to trap any aromas and allows bubbles to escape quickly, meaning the wine goes flat faster," he says.
But don't worry if your kitchen is stocked with flutes and/or coupes—Riedel says these are still great glasses for serving Champagne cocktails. And if you really want to do your bottle justice, Riedel makes a specialty wine glass ($39, amazon.com) dedicated to serving Champagne.