Thoughts Champagne/Sparkling Wine Glass – James Melendez

A tulip (Crate & Barrel), a coupe (Stölzle) and two tulip sparkling wine glasses (Reidel, Schott Zwiesel)

Of all wine glasses for either variety, region or style there is no more passion about design than that for sparkling wine.  Most people that I talk to about stemware for their preferences (not in the wine trade or media) prefer the flute.  But talking to people in the wine trade the tulip is king and secondarily if there are only flutes a Burgundy glass is next.

I am passionate about wine glass design.  I feel there are so few wine glasses that are the optimum glass.  There are so many technical problems out there as it relates to design and function or even price point right now in 2018.  There are many opportunities for improvement.  Price is a consideration and while not a technical flaw if too expensive most people don’t action and purchase the more expensive glass and in that thought end up buying a less-than-optimum sparkling wine glass.

The first purpose driven glass for sparkling wine glass is the Coupe.  Invented in 1663 in England way before Madame de Pompadour or Queen Marie Antoinette folkloric attribution to the design of the Coupe.  While modern day quality improvements in Champagne didn’t happen until Madame Clicquot in the 19th century the Coupe was invented and being utilised way before this time.  The recognition of sparkling wine glass and the need to see the effervescent was important; a point of difference and point of purpose glass.

The sparkling wine glass flute was also invented in the 17th century yet I cannot find anything more definitive about it’s birth.  The resulting design was to again highlight bubble action.  The missing quality of both wine glasses was for visual appreciation versus visual and smelling capability.

In either the flute or coupe viewing of bubbling is appreciable and yet the palate experience is depressed.  After all you cannot swirl or have a focused capture on scent characterization of wine in a Coupe; any slight swirl and the content’s spill out of the glass.  The Coupe is beautiful and in my early wine education days founded it evocative and absolutely beautiful.  It was refined elegance and I though this was the best way to taste.  The Coupe is popularised in the US post-prohibition.  I certainly associate it with the mid-century modern set.  I think of Camelot.  I thought there would be a lot of pictures of Jackie Kennedy Onassis with a Coupe glass in hand (see below).  Instead there is only one picture that is the only one that I believe exists.  One picture of Jackie with not just a Coupe but any wine glass in hand.  This picture was most likely when she was Jackie O.  I cannot find a citation or attribute who took photo (I found it on Pinterest).  But the reason for few photos is that she was probably rarely imbibing anything while being photographed–it just wasn’t a standard for photography then but in some ways of today.  Today unless you are in the wine trade I think people are rarely photographed this way even though billions more photos are being taken weekly if not daily.  You do see people with glass of wine in hand – Queen Elizabeth II, Michelle Obama and countless state dinners and other famous people probably much more abundantly today.

I do find this image of Jackie Kennedy Onassis amazing and symbolic of this era and the mid-century and I am glad it exists.

Jackie Kennedy Onassis – Unknown Photographer or Date/Place when this Photo was Taken


I was recently in Dallas and was at a restaurant in Highland Park Village.   I was served in a coupe my glass of Champagne Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé –I could have asked for another glass but instead went with it.  While I knew it was not the optimum experience it was fun–it felt like a fancy way to enjoy my wine.  I noticed I had to be extra delicate so the wine would not spill.  It was fun to taste Champagne this way.  I indeed slowed way down in my enjoyment of this Champagne.


The beauty of online wine writing is that I will update this when survey closes in 6 days.

I am fascinating there is not one specific wine glass that is the overwhelming choice.  Though not a huge sample it does give insight.  I am sure at will look a bit differently after survey closes.  But I don’t think it will be radically different than this first initial capture in just a few days.


At least in the wine trade/media the choice is the tulip but looking around at many on-premise establishments the flute is still in large numbers out there.

I found this great title about the flute on Decanter’s site:

Should Champagne flutes be outlawed?

I love the title–there is a point of view somewhere in this article–right?

After reading this I am still not convinced in the merits of the flute.  I do think so people are missing the journey of Champagne/sparkling wine as wine.  I do think some people equate Champagne/sparkling wine in a league and origin of it’s own versus it is wine.

The base wines of any sparkling wine are fascinating and yet I do think a tulip yields the optimum in terms of taste, viewing and overall technical tasting of sparkling wine.

I do think that a tulip glass is as beautiful as a coupe or flute.  Flutes have been popular because they deliver an abundance of bubbles and in the mass easy to dish wash –certainly easier than dish washing a Coupe.

I do think it would be great to see many more tulips when I dine out in the US–truly they are as rare as rubies.



James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2018 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

I do not own the Jackie Kennedy Onassis photograph.

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About James Melendez

II love wine and business. I am obsessed with the subject, the art, the history, the sciences, organization management, and making things less complex I have been a former national wine marketing manager for a large off-premise food and wine retailer (280+ retail locations in 30 US States); the love for wine taught me the good practice of using the best methodologies to right side a business which unto itself is complex. Further complexity is wine. Wine simple to enjoy and yet profoundly complex because of many factors: Many grape varieties States of wine: sparkling, still and fortified wines Vintage Blends Regions/AVAs/DOCs etc. Many producer styles Many producers Limited supply Limited and often restricted distribution My experience is still a lot of intimidation with respect to wine. Wine means many things to many people; status, fear, success, ‘you’ve arrived’, enjoyment, good times, tradition and even ceremony. I have consulted with wine producers and association. I have spoken on Wine and Social Media, Wine and Video and The Business of Wine in conferences in the United States and Europe. Beer and spirits do have the same dynamics–there are many producers but compared to wine there is no other consumer product like it. I have been writing about since November 2006 on my site and I have over 2,890 wine videos on my YouTube channel talking about general wine subject matter as well as specific educational topics on wine and reviews. I have been a wine judge and have traveled to many wine countries in the new and old world. Wine has taken me to great places. Life is tough for most of us and it is nice to celebrate life with those near and even far. What wine is really about is sitting around a table with family and friends raising your wine glass and saying—to life! I love to write about travel, food, technology and business–please subscribe! Salute, *** A plethora of wine reviews from wines regions around the world. Read more of my wine © 2020, 2018, 2017, 2010 James P. Melendez – All Rights Reserved.
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2 Responses to Thoughts Champagne/Sparkling Wine Glass – James Melendez

  1. Pingback: Wine Blog Daily Monday 7/9/18 | Edible Arts

  2. Pingback: Liquor Industry News/Links 07-23-18 | Franklin Liquors

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