By Misty Kaiser
With wine, as with beer, there are almost as many types of stemware as there are varietals. Different shapes are intended to enhance a particular characteristic of a specific wine, champagne notwithstanding. There are three basic types of stemware used for champagne.The flute, the saucer and the tulip. All three, as with all stemware, should always be held by the stem to prevent the heat from the hand from affecting the temperature, and thereby the taste of the contents.
The most widely used stemware for sparkling wines, the champagne flute has a tall, narrow bowl which is designed to conserve the carbonation by giving the wine less surface area for the bubbles to escape.The narrow shape also allows the aroma to rise and concentrate. Some flutes have an intentionally roughened spot in the bottom to cause more bubbles to form. It doesn’t serve much of a purpose other than creating that signature sparkle.
The champagne saucer has a decidedly vintage look and more than a few rumors about its creation. Its shallow, broad bowl and short stem make it perfect for creating champagne towers, but not so ideal for keeping the bubbly, well, bubbly. It has its moment with short and sweet toasts with new and sweet sparklers. It’s still a great choice for a party with impact and personality.
The tulip is a stemmed glass with a rim that is narrower than its middle. It’s traditionally used for non-sparkling white wines, because the much wider surface area has a similar effect as the saucer, though not as drastic. Some, but not all, sommeliers prefer the tulip for the drier and more complex vintage champagnes as the shape allows for better breathing, while still holding on to the aroma and most of the carbonation.