This isn’t a casual brag, but I went to a wine tasting in London the other day billed as the ‘biggest wine tasting in Europe’. It was given by the premium glass manufacturer, Riedel, by the eleventh-generation CEO himself, Maximilian Riedel.
In my delusional mind it was going to be an intimate affair, with me and a handful of other world-class wine writers. There were in fact hundreds of people in attendance, which made me feel so special. Like me, all had been lured by the title of the event, “A Tasting to find The Perfect Champagne Glass”.
Now, I’ve always just gone along with the assumption that the Champagne flute is the best vessel from which to sip the fizzy stuff, it’s just kind of universally accepted. Right? The only other glass I was aware of was the Coupe, apparently modelled on Marie Antoinette’s left breast, yes, you read that right. The Coupe glass is more ‘open plan’, woefully inefficient as a means of maintaining bubbles as they flit off in minutes, but great in terms of style and theatre. So, what could possibly constitute the ‘perfect Champagne glass’? After all, that’s a pretty punchy claim.
Firstly, let me say Maximilian is a top speaker, inspirational and passionate. By the end of it, we were eating out of his hands. In fact, he could have been telling us to drink Champagne out of our own cupped hands and we would have done it. Luckily for us, he didn’t. Instead, he asked us to drink Moët Champagne from three different glasses; the Coupe, the Flute and the Champagne wine glass. The last one is exactly as it says on the tin, like a wine glass but with a tapered, chimney-like part towards the rim.
If you consider that each bubble brings with it aroma to the surface, the idea of the Champagne wine glass is that the greater surface area allows more bubbles to burst simultaneously. Their aromas are then captured within the tapering rim. I have to say, the difference is night and day. It makes you wonder how people have been drinking from the flute for so long, almost like listening to Beethoven’s Fifth with ear mufflers on. Sure, the flute looks the part and has a lovely way of showcasing a Champagne/Sparking’s elegant beading. The Champagne wine glass feels like taking off the mufflers to the sound of Bang and Olufsen (other luxury sound systems are available), with full access to every nuance in the piece.
Maximilian then pushed us further into tasting rosé Champagne from an even bigger, red Nebbiolo glass. I found this to be too much, and felt rosé also worked sublimely in the Champagne wine glass for all the same reasons. It was one of those defining moments, and I for one couldn’t go back to the flute, not now I’d tasted Champagne as it’s supposed to be tasted. Thanks Maximilian, I can’t wait for the world to taste Rathfinny in your beautiful glasses. Now, how about using an English Sparkling wine in your next tasting…?