The History of the Champagne Glasses

Have you ever sat down and wondered why are there so many kinds of champagne glasses, tall, skinny, tulip shaped, and even short saucer shaped ones. Why are there so many and what are they all used for? Who could have come up with so many and why do we need them couldn’t we just drink it out of a wine glass?

Let’s begin at the bottom, as will all stemware, the stem allows the drinker to hold the glass without affecting the temperature of the drink. If your hand was to wrap around the glass it would raise the temperature of the champagne and cause it to warm more quickly and the bubbles to dissipate. As we go up to drinking vessel there are important things to consider. The tall sleek shape of the flute is designed to retain the champagne’s signature bubble by reducing the surface area at the top, a smooth surface area produces fewer bubbles and there by producing more bubbles in the tasters mouth. This smaller diameter also allows more glasses to be carried on a tray during a wedding or celebration.

While most commonly used for champagne, flutes are also used for certain beers, especially Belgian lambic and gueuze, which are commonly brewed with wild yeast and often fruit. The tart flavor of these beers, coupled with their carbonation, makes them similar to champagne, and the flute an ideal choice of glassware to capture the flavor of these beers.

The champagne coupe or saucer the shallow, bowl, stemmed glass, commonly used at wedding receptions, often stacked in layers to build a champagne towers was made in 1663 in England. But it came into fashion in the 1930s in America and was popularized in post-prohibition at the Stork Club where champagne flowed freely and celebrities had bottles of champagne sent to their tables, compliments of the house. This was the glass of choice through the 1960s when champagnes’ became drier and less sweet. The Broad surface of this style of glass allowed the drier champagne to lose its carbonation more quickly and therefore fell out of fashion and was replaced by the taller flutes that were more suited for the now drier champagne.

Champagne is a white wine, and can be served in white wine glasses. Some prefer this, particularly in a "tulip" or "belly" shape in which the rim of the glass is more narrow than the midpoint and it permits the aroma to become trapped and thereby giving it more of a bouquet when it is drank while still retaining the low surface area and not allowing the champagne to lose its carbonation.

There have been some innovations and novelties added to the champagne glasses such as the stem less glass, the inside out glass, and the double walled glass where there is a thin wall of air that separates the champagne from the drinker’s hand not allowing the heat to be transferred to the champagne. Whatever type of glass you choice make sure that it will complement the type of champagne you are serving.