In France carbonated wines are called Champagne or crémant, in Spain cava, in Italy prosecco, in Germany sekt and in America sparkling wine. Carbonated wines are the top beverage choice for celebrations. Recently more of these wines are moving from just celebrations into the fine wine category and with this change the stemware we are using to serve it in is changing as well.
Images of Champagne have been reflected in movies from Audrey Hepburn in the iconic Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch to Leonardo DiCaprio in remake of The Great Gatsby. Each of these movies depicts celebrations with the classic Champagne saucer (coupe) style stemware (wide bowl and short stem). While this style of stemware is perhaps the oldest it does not give the imbiber the best experience. The bowl is so wide the bubbles and aromas disseminate quickly.
For New Year’s Eve parties and wedding receptions the trend has moved to Champagne flutes. This is a taller, narrower, straight-edged stemware and has advantages of concentrating the bubbles for a better appearance, focusing the aromas and holding the temperature of the wine longer. This is the most popular stemware currently being used for serving Champagne in restaurants and bars.
If Champagne is moving into fine dining then deciding how to serve this drink for the best guest experience is becoming paramount. Sommeliers are now recommending everything from Sauvignon Blanc stemware to Pinot Noir stemware.
In an effort to determine if a different glass really does affect the experience, a non-scientific experiment was conducted at Gloria Ferrer this week using five styles of Lehmann crystal stemware that they sell with a variety of their sparkling wines.
Three of the stemware styles were flat topped with various wide bowl sizes that tapered into a closed rim to concentrate the aromas including an absolute flute (Sauvignon Blanc style), a grand champagne (tulip style) and a grand rouge (Pinot Noir style) stemware. Two of the stemware styles were oblique (top of the glass was angled) an oblique flute and an oblique wine (Riesling style).
Gloria Ferrer sparkling wines are known for their small concentrated bubbles, the lovely aromas of raspberries (in their Pinot Noir dominant wines) and the complex layers of aromas.
The larger bowls showed the mousse (small bubbles on the top of a glass of Champagne) better than smaller styles while all of the stemware showed the small bubbles rising beautifully.
The oblique flute, absolute flute and grand champagne stemware all concentrated the flavors well and presented them at the rim of the glass, but due to the narrowness of the stemware presented an intense aroma that overwhelmed the secondary characteristics of the wine. The grand rouge (Pinot Noir style) and the oblique wine (Riesling style) stemware both presented the aromas in a balanced manner allowing the secondary aromas to be evident.
One final point on the stemware was that the flat topped stemware was an obstacle to drinking because the stemware hit your nose and required an extreme tilt to be completely consumed.
So the winner of this non-scientific test was the oblique wine stemware for its ability to showcase all of the nuances of the wine from its bubbles to multiple layers of complexity. The only downside was that the larger the stemware the quicker the temperature of the wine dropped. So if you are thinking about serving a nice bottle of bubbles perhaps bring out your wine stemware instead of those flutes.
If you would like to try Gloria Ferrer’s sparkling wines, an excellent opportunity will be the Bubbles and Bloom Festival on April 9, 2016 at their Sonoma, California facility. In additional to award winning wines and chef prepared bites, it will be an opportunity to meet professionals from Flower Magazine for creative floral arranging and colorful flower art installations perfect for special occasions, just the type of occasion to enjoy with a bottle of sparkling wine in your favorite style of stemware.