With the possible exception of playoff victory celebrations, Wednesday night will see more mushroom corks pop than any other day of the year, it being New Year's Eve and all. Unlike those post-season win-fests, your wine-fest will probably require a glass instead of your guzzling it straight from the bottle. But what sort of vessel to pour it into? There has been a lot of chatter recently about glasses for sparkling wine, and you might be surprised by the developing consensus.
We all long ago learned that the shallow birdbath known as a Champagne coupe flattens the bubbles and is too easy to slosh. A tall thin glass called a flute has been the preferred choice because it doesn't slosh and it frames the rising bubbles so prettily.
But a lot of us realized a long time ago that really good fizz tastes just fine in a regular wineglass. Maybe better. The Champenois have been serving theirs in classic white wine stems for years, the better to show all the extra nuances we pay the big bucks to get.
When I review sparkling wines, I use the same glass as for everything else, a stemless beaker called an impitoyable. Its design shows a wine's every nuance with digital clarity. I can taste details that do not show up as well in a flute.
How much of a difference? When I opened a nice sparkling wine to drink before dinner on Christmas, I put it to the test. I poured the same amount into three glasses—an impitoyable, a 12-ounce white-wineglass and a flute. I preferred the tasting glass, but the white-wineglass was almost as good, the flute a close third.
The differences were subtle, possibly because these flutes aren't just skinny tubes; they bulge out a bit. They were made by Riedel, which recently introduced a different option. The Champagne glass in its new Veritas series looks like a classic white-wineglass with just a bit of a point in the bottom to give the bubbles a place to rise from. It's a lovely glass, though they cost $69 a pair.
I am beginning to appreciate the wisdom of serving sparkling wine in a regular white-wine stem. Is it festive enough? Well, I'm not going to complain if someone hands me a flute filled with Bollinger R.D. But I would be even happier with the same wine in a glass I already have, and that displays more of the greatness.
How about you? Does the glass matter?