After precious consideration, and perhaps a few rabbit holes, you’ve done it — selected a bottle of bubbly to kick off the weekend. Whether you’re a seasoned or a burgeoning champagne drinker, this decision is hardly a laughing matter.
Now the bottle is chilled, ready to pop. You’re triumphantly ready to enjoy but have just recalled that your last okay-ish champagne glasses were casualties of a recent dinner party. Scouring the cabinets yields one rock solid and bedazzled mutant floupe (yes, that’s flute and coupe) a friend of a friend brought you as a house-warming present, and even the deepest yearning to drink the bubbles won’t quell the intuition telling you, “absolutely do not pour that wine into this glass.”
Or maybe this wasn’t you, exactly, because you did remember to pick up a few more glasses before it was champagne time. But in replacing them you wondered, what really is the best glass to use for champagne?
Here to fill you in.
In terms of glass anatomy, it’s pretty simple. Barring eccentric one-off designs, there are three components that play a role in drinking experience.
The size of the rim opening determines how the aromas will travel out of the glass. If the circumference is small, these compounds will get into an aromatic traffic jam, often with quite a bit of alcohol that can’t escape either. It’s no use being a curious sniffer only to be affronted with notes of ethanol. Too large a circumference and the aromatics have high-tailed it outta there before you even arrive.
The shape of the bowl can also affect how the wine’s aromas move up and out, but also in how they move around. The glass should have a shape that allows for easy oxygenation of the wines and layering or interaction of the aromatics. It also affects the staying power of the effervescence: linear shapes retain the bubbles for longer while organic or curved shapes promote them to dissipate more quickly. Tulip shaped bowls are what to look out for.
The style of the base contributes to temperature control of the wine and glass balance. Essentially the option is stem or no stem. A stemless glass requires the drinker to hold the body of glass thereby raising the temperature of the wine and it also is less stable. Stemmed, on the other hand, don’t post the issue of warming and have a foot that offers more stability.
Naturally, you want a glass that strikes a balance between all of these elements, and it may be surprising, but some of the best for champagne are those that you might be accustomed to using when drinking still wine. Let’s take a look at the top contenders.
Best Champagne Glasses Overall
Gabriel-Glas Universal Wine Glass
This tulip-shaped glass, made in Austria, comes in two versions. They are identical in shape and size (capacity included), both made from lead-free crystal, but the entry level StandArt is machine molded whereas the Gold Edition is mouth-blown. For this the weights differ (3 vs. 5oz , respectively) offering slightly different tactile experiences. Pricey, sure, but when it comes down to it, a universal glass of this quality will pay for itself because it is just that — universal, to be used for all of your wine pouring needs, what the company calls, “One for All!”
Zalto Denk-Art Universal Wine Glass
Two times Austria for the win! Zalto’s universal glass, also mouth-blown, holds a larger capacity (great for swirling) than the Gabriel. The bowl shape is linear, but it is tapered to the rim. Interestingly, the curvature of the bottom of this glass was designed with respect to the angles of the tilt of the earth. The alignment of the wine in this way, Zalto claims, parallels natural and celestial movements thereby optimizing the drinking experience. Won’t argue with the experts. Though super light with an unmistakable air of delicacy, this glass is surprisingly durable.
A champagne flute typically doesn’t provide the best form for showcasing this serious sparkling wine, but Lehmann Glass — fabricated in Reims at the heart of the Champagne region —strives to create those that do. Not surprisingly, the Absolus is a tulip shaped glass that is extremely pointed at the bottom of the base to promote bubble activity. This style comes in a swath of volume options, great if you want a little more lee-way in swirling and sniffing.
Schott Zwiesel Fortissimo
If you’re looking for a sleek design that totes classic champagne flute elegance, with a technical upper hand, this is it. Outfitted with laser-etched effervescent points (six inconspicuous dots at the bottom of the bowl), this glass aims to extend the life of the bubbles in your glass. Zweisel works with a proprietary “Titan” crystal that is strong and long lasting, and their production is streamlined and eco-conscious.
Riedel Super Leggero
This wide-top style may say bubbles be-gone, “aromatics who needs ‘em?,” but damn, it’s a sexy look. For the must-have couple people out there, check Riedel’s Superleggero. Italian for “light,” the handmade leggero are longstem, seriously dignified coupes, with capacity that allows for a good pour that is stable in the glass and will sip just long enough to catch all the bubbles.
Riedel O Tumbler
Generally speaking, I wouldn’t advocate for stemless champagne glasses if you want to be inquisitive with your wine, but they are a great option if you want easy-to-store (s/o to the studio apartment folks), everyday glasses that don’t skimp on aesthetic. Riedel’s been doing it a long time, about three-hundred years; it’s design and quality you can trust. And if you’re looking to purchase a set that’s economical, the O Tumbler hits the mark.
Let’s just say, for some reason, you can’t use a full quarter of your pack for this weekend’s camping trip to house your super lux glasses and their carrying case… where do you turn to for your portable needs? Made in the USA Go-vino offers sets of 8oz acrylic champagne glasses — flute style and with thumb-notched comfort, you’ll never let go.
How to Choose the Best Glass for You
Whether you are planning to drink champagne solely or other sparkling wines as well, your best glass will be determined by what you want to get out of the drinking experience. If you’re keen on the best champagne, logic follows you’d be wise to be keen on the best champagne glass as well. As with the bubbly, these types of glasses usually come with a higher price tag. If you’re in need of a more budget friendly alternative to the universal crystal glasses and others featured, be on the lookout for a lightweight white wine glass style.
Folks who prefer their champagne a bit warmer than cellar temperature might opt for stemless glasses, or those looking for the bubbles to taper off over time might consider coupes or another wider-mouth glass style. For toasting occasions or events requiring many glasses, flutes are the most reasonable option as they easily fit on trays and table surfaces and are not cumbersome to walk around with. But the most important thing when selecting your next champagne glass is not to get bogged down by the shoulds of convention. Everyone holds different preferences when drinking champagne and of course it depends on the bottle, too. For the full experience, my recommendation: try ’em all!