So you have the perfect occasion and the perfect bottle selected; it could be a celebration or a Tuesday, but the issue is that this bottle is unlike the others you’ve enjoyed before: it’s sparkling! Congratulations you’ve just crossed an invisible boundary, peered into the key hole and now your life will never be the same after you’ve tasted it’s effervescent elixir. But wait! We have one small detail that we have overlooked… nope, not the temperature as you knew to make sure the bottle is cold and it’s been chilling for quite some time now. It’s not what to eat with it either as you have a large selection of cheese and charcuterie which is perfect for any wine occasion. Ah! That’s it! The glasses! How could we forget the glasses!? After all this wine is very sesame street (one of these things is not like the other) in that it has bubbles! We can’t use the glasses we normally use… or can we? What factors should we consider when selecting a glass for bubbly?

First things first: I certainly don’t want to cause anyone to shy away from enjoying a delicious bottle of bubbles simply because they don’t have a “proper” glass (whatever that means). If it holds liquid it qualifies as a suitable vessel, with preference going to glass then ceramic then whatever… and if you find yourself in the impromptu and often very fun situation of not having a glass (we’ve all been there) then be free and enjoy nature’s nectar directly from the bottle!

Now on to more academic thoughts:

What to consider when choosing glassware for sparkling by looking at 3 common glassware options:

  1. Traditional Champagne Flute
  2. A general purpose wine glass
  3. A bigger bowl (part that holds the liquid) sparkling flute


Traditional Champagne Flute

The design is a dramatic shift from the normal general shape of all other wine glasses in that it’s very tall and narrow.

This design accomplishes a few different effects:

It keeps the air to wine ratio very small. This is due to the smaller opening at the top of the glass where the wine will come into direct contact with the air. This will give a smaller surface area for the bubbles to dissipate thereby maintaining more effervescence in the glass! Alas if your major concern is how many bubbles are in this sparkling wine then this is the glass for you!

Also because it is tall and narrow it often only holds 6-8 ounces (depending on the manufacturer) which seems like a good amount because what we would expect in the industry would be a standard 5 ounce pour even for sparkling, but this size pales in comparison to many wine glasses who can often hold 2/3 to a full+ bottle of wine (25.4oz). Why does this matter? Well one part that even professionals often overlook in the heat (pun intended here) of the moment is the ambient temperature of a room and those items within it such as a glass! The temperature of the glass itself will directly impact the wine that you pour into it because, and science is real folks and the earth is round, it will cause a heat exchange until it reaches an equilibrium (it’ll warm up the wine you pour into the glass). The higher the glass to wine ratio the larger the effect will be on the wine. When you have a glass of 6-8oz and you fill it 5oz (almost a 1:.7 ratio) with wine then you minimize the effect of temperature exchange AND voila the wine should stay colder longer, which helps make it more refreshing! The first glass you pour is always the one most affected but like most demands of the world: after glass two it becomes a little less important.

The biggest drawback is that with this glass we have consciously made the decision to trade air contact for more bubbles. This means that our sparkling wine will not have the opportunity to mix with the air and create a reasonable bouquet of aromas. Basically, you can’t really smell much out of a flute. 

Pros: The design helps keep it cooler and maximizes the effervescence

Cons: Can’t smell much of a bouquet

Let’s talk about an all-purpose wine glass next since it’s not only the most common glass you’re likely to have in your cupboard but also it’s a direct contrast to the Champagne flute.



All-purpose wine glass

(AP for short in the biz)

This is our common go-to glass for crisp whites with little to no oak influence but why might we reach for it with sparkling? Bowl size. It often has a bowl that will hold 12-16 ounces. This is usually close to double the size of a Champagne flute.

With this larger bowl size we will have a larger mouth (the opening of the glass) which will allow a greater area for gas to escape which means we won’t be concentrating on preserving bubbles with this glass. We will also have a much larger glass to wine ratio with a 5oz pour (approx. 3:1). The effect of ambient glass temperature will have a greater influence here so we won’t be trying to keep it the coldest.

What are we missing here? Aren’t those all-important things we should be focusing on? Yes, but what about all those complexities we missed out on concerning aroma? This glass focuses on those!

The larger surface to wine ratio allows us sommeliers to do our favorite move: SWIRL! I would practice a few times in private before going live because I’ve seen even seasoned veterans lose a bit out of the glass on an overzealous swirl. That aside, the swirl isn’t just a cool move it also spreads the wine out thinly across the inside surface of the glass. When this happens in allows a greater amount of the alcohol to mix with air and evaporate. When it evaporates it carries with it the aroma compounds found in the wine. And like it slap in the face from a Batman comic or Emeril throwing spice into a pan: BAM! There are aromas of apples and lemons, almonds and brioche, cream and dough and the list goes on. With this glass we want to provide more space for the wine to interact with air so that we can smell more of this jolly juice! Which is why we picked out this bottle anyhow right? Because we actually wanted to smell and taste something delicious!

Pros: More aromatic development

Cons: Warms faster (we can always pour smaller and more often), we lose more bubbles



The road less travelled: A sparkling flute with a small bowl.

These will usually split the difference and happen to be a favorite of mine with a bowl size of about 9-12oz.

This glass although rarely seen (I mean how many glasses do we really need anyhow?) is my go to sparkling wine glass. Some hardcore sommeliers may make a passionate argument that only a true connoisseur would drink their sparkling wine out of an AP glass to get all of the aroma and flavor out of it. I would have to beg to differ that it fails rule #1 for me and that is: it isn’t as enjoyable to me often if it isn’t chilled. I feel it loses its thirst quenching abilities a little bit and while it’s true that the cooler something is the less you can taste it (thinking back to college shots at the dive bar) I think we can have both! This glass will keep it cool AND allow the bouquet to develop so that you can actually smell and taste what you’re drinking.

Pros: This is the glass for those that want to have cake and eat it too (which also isn’t an uncommon aroma in Champagne)

Cons: Less common to find this style of glass