It often happens to drink a beverage in a glass that is not the one studied to contain it, like receiving a Pils beer into a chalice; actually, using the right glass can make a big difference, especially for wine.
Among all the different wine glasses, which have in common the long stem that enables the drinker to keep the cup without warming the liquid inside, the most popular is the Flute, designed to consume of Champagne and then used for all the other sparkling and fizzy wines.
Before digging into the reasons why the Flute is great for tasting sparkling or fizzy wines, let’s find out about its origins.
Technology and Sparkling Wines: the Flute Origins
The most famous sparkling wine is, since ever, Champagne: it first came to England with the Normans and rapidly become the favorite drink from the English lords. In the beginning, the sparkling wine was consumed into pottery cups or blown-glass flutes, but as soon as the technology-enabled this opportunity, nobles used more ostentatious glass chalices.
It was George Ravenscroft in 1674 who innovated the glass production adding lead monoxide to the other mash ingredients: what he got was a more viscous glass, easier to shape and with fewer air bubbles, thus more resistant and solid.
The Coupe, the Flute and the Russians
The first glass purposely designed to contain Champagne was the “Coupe", the classical round and wide cup, larger than tall, with a short stem. The legend says that the shape of this glass was based on the breasts of Marie Antoinette Queen of France; in reality, it was created in England, and was happily welcomed for its wide contact surface between wine and air, that allows the liquid to release its aromas but also to quickly dissolve the foam, considered vulgar back then.
Like the English, other European rulers liked Champagne a lot: the Russian empire, for instance, was then the second world consumer of this wine and, with the same pace as the western factories, the factories of the Zar began quickly a massive production of glass, Champagne-dedicated, glasses with different styles and embellishments.
The Coupe was born earlier, but soon enough, the possibilities opened by the technology led to producing many different wine glasses. Among all those designs, the most popular has been the Flute, which is still widely in use.
Why you should use the Flute glass to taste Sparkling wines
As said above, using one glass or another can really change your experience in tasting the wine and the characteristics you can feel.
The traditional Coupe, which evokes a luxurious and noble wine consumption, has the advantage of helping the release of aromas, which helps to explore the wine and to dissolve the foam. Anyway, this cup has been almost completely abandoned as now we appreciate a wine in a different way, thus its width is now a flaw and absent foam in a sparkling wine an important defect.
The Flute glass, however, has resisted all this time because it amplifies the characteristics that are now appreciated in this category of wines: effervescence and perlage, in fact, distinguish now a quality wine from a mediocre one. Its tall and tight shape helps the nucleation (or agglomeration) of CO2 bubbles at the center of the glass, forming a unique (or just a few) bubble columns and giving to the wine a more elegant look. On top of that, the wide vertical surface allows to look through the wine and enjoy its color.
Il Tulip per vino spumante
Also the Flute, anyway, has its flaw, and this is exactly what makes the Coupe good for Champagne: the reduced contact surface between air and wine slows the release of aromas down (even if with the Flute they’re more concentered).
The Tulip Flute for sparkling wine
Recently some producers have found a solution that unites the positive characteristics of both glasses: the Tulip. This is an evolution of the classic glass for aromatic beers, and has a bulb shape, a long stem and pairs the depth of the Flute with the width of the Coupe; not only, as while drinking its slight slay helps the wine flow on the entire surface of the tongue, highlighting all its flavors and attributes.
Receive more interesting articles like this one directly into your inbox!
Subscribe to Vitium newsletter!