Though most Champagne is served in a flute or a coupe, we've recently learned from Riedel, a high-end wineglass maker, that both should be avoided! The flute, with its narrow shape, prevents the nose from experiencing the aromas of the Champagne, thus diminishing the flavor. In addition, the coupe, with a wide rim, exposes the Champagne to too much air, which quickly flattens those precious bubbles and disseminates the delicate flavors.
When Moët sent us a bottle of its Imperial Brut, the Champagne makers also included a pair of Riedel Champagne Glasses ($69 for a set of two), so we could test and taste the difference ourselves. The design of Riedel's Champagne glass may appear like a normal white wine glass to the average person, but it has some discerning design details worth noting. The wide rim allows the nose to fit and inhale the Champagne aromas. Also, the bowl itself contains a particular groove to encourage the formation of Champagne bubbles.
No matter how gorgeous the wineglasses and their captivating descriptions, we had to see if we could really taste the difference. We set up flutes, standard white wine glasses, and the Champagne glasses side by side. While drinking Champagne out of a flute, we discovered the design of the glass does nothing for the Champagne's flavor. We noticed immediately that we tasted the effervescence, mouthfeel, and cool temperature of the wine, but not so much its flavor nuances. The Champagne glass offered a completely different experience. Suddenly, we could taste the flavor complexities of the wine, like the acidity, fruitiness, and nuttiness. The white wine glass proved to have similar problems as the coupe; the bubbles diminished rapidly, and the open rim made the flavor "fly" out of the glass.
While the Riedel glasses prove to be the superior vessels for Champagne, the case still remains that they are quite pricey for the set of two. We recommend avid Champagne drinkers invest in a set. Otherwise, standard flutes are fine to use.