The Best Sparkling Wine Glass Shape

The debate around the best sparkling wine glass shape is as controversial as pouring white wine in a red wine glass.

So controversial, in fact, that numerous news platforms have begun throwing shade at the conventional champagne flute we use today. There’s one here, here, here, here, here… You get our point. To truly show how delicate the situation is, a sixth-generation scion named Olivier Krug of the House of Krug is on a humanitarian mission to make everyone drink from tulip glasses. His exact words were: “flutes are crap. It’s like going to the opera in earplugs”.

As we seek out the best sparkling wine glass shape, let’s take a stroll through the history of bubbling wine.

The Coupe

Why must everything be so sexual?

Now, this is a rumour worth discussing! For a century or two, we’ve been led to believe that the champagne coupe – that saucer-like glass which became a fad in the 1930s – was originally designed from Marie Antoinette’s breast. Which is completely false. Interestingly, Marie Antoinette’s breast wasn’t the only one part of that rumour. Louis XV’s mistress Madame du Pompadour, Napoleon’s wife Empress Josephine and even Helen of Troy were rumoured to have their lady bosoms crafted into wine coupes. According to Snopes, an online fact checker, the champagne coupe was created in 1663, the year that none of these women lived in. As for the rumour itself:

“No one knows how this rumour began,” the Snopes article reads, “but a good guess would be someone’s drunken observations on the shape of the glass coupled with a dollop of male fantasy sparked it off.”

Verdict: If you’re preparing an afternoon or evening of drunken shenanigans, the coupe is not the best choice. Its wide rim makes it easier for liquids to escape the glass, even on the lightest of stumbles. While it’s wide rim may allow for more aroma to escape, the bubbles will also follow suit. These glasses, in many opinions, are best left for 1930s dress-up parties. They also make a great martini glass substitute!

The Trumpet and The Flute

Blowing bubbles is not recommended

We find it ironic that the conventional sparkling wine glasses we use today are named after wind instruments because flutes and trumpets are not designed to take in your expelled air. There’s also a reduced surface area in both these glass shapes, which means less space for bubbles to escape and less room for aromas to breath.

Unfortunately, the conception date of the flute and trumpet glass is hard to pinpoint. Many sources point to the early 1700s, but it wasn’t until the 1970s when the flute and trumpet became trendy (mostly the flute). It’s generally the aperitif before a dinner party, the glass of choice for formal toasting, the go-to choice at horse racing carnivals or the perfect choice for a lavish cocktail party.

Verdict: Because of its conventionality, you may not get a choice for many occasions and events. It’s tight shape and the small amount of breathing space it affords creates an unworthy vessel for those truly special bottles of bubbly. For those sparkling wines that are classier than Passion Pop, but not as special as Moët & Chandon, we say go for the champagne flute – especially if the occasion calls for it. But if you want to truly indulge in the flavours and aromas, then you may want to reconsider your options.

The Tulip

Flowers are a wine’s best friend

We’ve discussed breast-shaped glasses and glasses named after wind instruments, only to end up at a less-thrilling glass shape: the tulip sparkling wine glass. Olivier Krug is not the only one wanting to get people to drink from this glassware. Maximilian Riedel, CEO of Riedel, is also aiming for the same outcome. According to the Financial Times, Maximilian said: “my dream is at the end of my career to have eliminated flutes because people will gain so much more out of [the tulip glass] when drinking champagne.”

As well as the champagne flute, we’ve yet to find the exact date of when the tulip sparking wine glass was invented, but some articles suggest a recent conception. One in particular, from Bespoke Unit, claims the glass shape was invented in the late 2000s. Before then, sommeliers and aficionados relied on white wine tasting glasses to enjoy sparkling wine.

Verdict: The tulip sparkling wine glass is a design that takes into account the differences between the coupe and flute while understanding the nosing and tasting techniques from the white wine glass. In short, the tulip glass retains bubbles better than a coupe, allows the aromas to develop and rise better than a flute while including the option to properly swirl the liquid without fear of it spilling over the lip. If you have a complex sparkling wine that you want to truly appreciate, then this glass is for you. But until the conventions of the flute change, don’t expect the next cocktail party you attend to be pouring sparkling wine in a tulip glass. Lastly, don’t pour too much into it or else you won’t get to properly appreciate your special bottle.

(Feature Image: Tristan Gassert)