In the early 20th century, when society types in England and the United States pranced around drinking pink Champagne, they loved the coupe. The saucerlike glass showed off the colorful bubbly and came with a naughty, but probably apocryphal, story that it was modeled on Marie-Antoinette’s left bosom.
Sadly, coupes are a terrible vessel for sparkling wines. Or as Riedel Japan’s Wolfgang Angyal puts it, they are “the enemy of Champagne. You have this open lake with no aroma, and you have to suck it into your mouth so you get foaming bubbles. It’s like drinking beer through a straw.”
The July/August 2009 edition of American Scientist reported a study of Champagne bubbles that found “the periphery of the coupe is characterized by a zone of no motion.” All the fizz and flavor action is taking place in the middle of the long glass, rather than near the rim.
The coupe faded out of fashion, replaced by the flute as the glass of serious Champagne drinkers. Tall and slim, it sustains the effervescence, and is easier to handle than the coupe.
But now the flute may be going the way of the coupe. “We’re almost going into drinking Champagne from wine glasses,” says Angyal.
He says that Champagne houses are producing wines with more complex and concentrated aromas than the sweet and less expressive 19th century releases. Aroma matters, and a wine glass can better capture the various characters.
“Dom Perignon’s (chef de cave) Richard Geoffroy has been using Riedel’s wine glasses for years,” says Angyal. Riedel have produced glasses with rounder bodies at the request of Champagne houses such as Veuve Clicquot, Bollinger and Piper Heidsieck, and, says Angyal, “for Champagne that is primarily pinot noir, some people have even been using our massive Burgundy Grand Cru glasses.”