From the elegantly squat and shallow, bowl-like coupe glasses of the 1920s reminiscent of The Great Gatsby and Boardwalk Empire, to the skinny flute of today and the wine lover’s favourite champagne tulip, the champagne glass has cemented itself as an icon of luxury and style. It has a rich history with interesting fables surrounding its creation, and has undergone a just few overhauls over the centuries. Here, we take a cursory look at the history of the chic champagne glass.
THE CLASSY COUPE
The champagne coupe first appears in Jean-François de Troy’s 1734 painting Le Déjeuner d’Huîtres, which depicts a post-hunt oyster feast. In the painting, while one person pops open a bottle of champagne, the surrounding merrymakers clutch the coupe-shaped glasses.
There are rumours that the shape of the champagne coupe was modelled on the shape of Marie Antoinette’s breast, but this myth has since been debunked. Despite this, there have still been modern-day homages to this legend, with high-profile celebrities such as Claudia Schiffer and Kate Moss offering their anatomy as a model for champagne coupes. TV shows such as Mad Men, and an appreciation for old-world movie stars like Katherine Hepburn and Sofia Lauren have instigated a modern-day resurgence in the popularity of this style of glass.
THE ARRIVAL OF THE FLUTE
It wasn’t until the 1950s that the champagne flute started to appear more regularly on the scene. The flute allowed for less spillage than the coupe (also a problem for the martini glass), which can definitely be a plus as the night progresses and more glasses of bubbly are consumed.
Many oenophiles argued that the skinnier, tapered shape preserved the integrity of the bubbles for longer than the more open-topped coupe, providing longer-lasting enjoyment. This is owing to the reduced surface area, and a reduced oxygen to wine ratio maximises aroma, taste and ultimately enjoyment of this illustrious beverage.
BLOWING A TRUMPET
An 1831 catalogue from Belgian glassware manufacturer Val Saint Lambert advertises champagne glasses “en flûte”, “impossible” (a trumpet-shaped flute with no separate stem) and “en coupe” for the first time. This Trumpet Glass, is often considered a type of flute, but the sides curve outward in a trumpet shape at the opening. It is often stemless with a base or foot stand. The trumpet shape is not considered ideal by some because the wide mouth tends to allow the bubbles and aromas to disseminate a little too quickly. Another drawback, since there generally isn’t a stem, is the heat from your hand. It will warm the wine in the glass.
Flash forward to modern times, where there are plenty of seasoned champagne drinkers who believe that drinking bubbly from a champagne tulip creates the most satisfying experience. The champagne tulip has a flared mouth, which allows for a better appreciation of the aromas of the beverage.
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