The champagne flûte is a stem glass with a tall, narrow bowl. The bowl of a flute may resemble a narrow wine glass or a trumpet shape.
As with other stemware, the stem allows the drinker to hold the glass without affecting the temperature of the drink. The bowl is designed to retain champagne’s signature carbonation, by reducing the surface area at the opening of the bowl. The flute has largely replaced the champagne coupe or saucer, the shape of which allowed carbonation to dissipate even more rapidly than from a standard wine glass. Its smaller diameter also allows more flutes to be carried on a tray.
Nucleation in a champagne glass helps form the bubbles seen in champagne. Too much nucleation will cause the carbonation to fizzle out quickly. A smoother surface area will produce fewer bubbles in the glass, and more bubble texture in the taster’s mouth.
While most commonly used for sparkling wines, flutes are also used for certain beers, especially Belgian lambic and gueuze, which are brewed with wild yeast and often fruited. The tart flavor of these beers, coupled with their carbonation, makes them similar to sparkling white wines, and the champagne flute an ideal choice of glassware.
The champagne coupe is a shallow, broad bowled, stemmed glass, commonly used at wedding receptions, often stacked in layers to build a champagne tower. Champagne is continuously poured into the top glass, trickling down to fill every glass below. Legend has it the shape of the glass was modeled on the breast of Marie Antoinette, Joséphine de Beauharnais, Madame de Pompadour, and of several other French aristocrats, although this is almost certainly false. The glass was designed especially for champagne in England in 1663, preceding those aristocrats by almost a century.
The coupe came into fashion in the 1930s. It was popularized in post prohibition America at the Stork Club, where champagne flowed freely and celebrities had bottles of champagne sent to their tables, compliments of the house. The coupe was the champagne glass of choice through the 1960s.
The broad surface area allows champagne to lose its carbonation more quickly, making it less suitable for the current style of very dry champagnes, compared to the sweeter champagnes that were popular in the 1930s, and therefore fell out of fashion except for traditional occasions such as weddings. The coupe is now more commonly used for certain cocktails such as daiquiris.
In the 1990s, double wall stemware came into vogue for champagnes as well as other beverages. The inside and outside of the glass are separated by a small air gap to retard the transfer of heat from the drinker’s hand to the drink. An additional novelty designed by Alissia Melka Teichroew and sold by the Museum of Modern Art came on the market in 2004, the “inside out” double wall glass in which the inner wall is molded in the traditional shape, but the outer wall is simply cylindrical. When filled, the color of the contents reveals the traditional shape.