Finally, the perfect Champagne glass

This could make every day a celebration.

I’m not a nerd about wine glasses – most in my collection are freebies from wine festivals and tastings, embossed with a winery or sponsor name. (My favorite for years has proudly boasted Kroger, and I don’t even shop there.) But ever since I visited Champagne in 2007, I’ve been hunting for the perfect Champagne glass. I noticed my hosts at the various houses and domaines were not using the traditional flute glass, but one more like a tulip bulb. These weren’t regular wine glasses, though – they were wider just above the middle rather than the near the bottom. This allowed the bubbles to rise but also gave me a chance to stick my nose in the glass and savor the aromas. Have you ever tried to do that with a flute?

When I asked about the glasses, my French hosts were infuriatingly unhelpful. Why would they care what brand the glasses were? For them, the luxury was in the Champagne and its label (theirs), and that’s where they wanted me to focus my attention. But I kept marveling at those glasses. So for the last five years, I’ve been trying to find them here. I finally succeeded.

On Friday, my wife and I toasted our anniversary with Bruno Paillard Première Cuvée rosé in these delightful glasses. They’re French, of course, made by Peugeot. I found them on a website called BestWineGlass.com. There was one other glass that came close to this shape, the Schott Zwiesel Top Ten Vintage Champagne glass. It was larger and a little cheaper, but I love the look of the Peugeot, especially with the hand-blown touch at the bottom of the glass, a fine launching point for the bead of bubbles.

Maybe tonight we’ll celebrate a record-setting heat wave …

A traditional flute

The ideal Champagne glass.

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About Dave McIntyre

Wine columnist for The Washington Post, co-founder of DrinkLocalWine.com, and blogger at Dave McIntyre's WineLine (dmwineline.com).
This entry was posted in Champagne, France, Sparkling Wine, Wine and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Finally, the perfect Champagne glass

  1. Hi Dave! Yes, that’s a great glass! And Bruno Paillard is a fabulous champagne (disclosure: sent his daughter on a 6-city US tour a couple years ago). But, it’s not new. Taittinger started using that shape of glass to promote their artist series a while back. It’s probably from Baccarat since they are somehow related/co-owned – don’t remember the details. Ideal, definitely! (Me, I’m a Rosenthal girl!)

    Was your power out for long? We were lucky: only overnight the night of the storm. But I’ve just heard from colleagues who were down for 6 or 7 days.

    Best,
    Mary Ann
    vwg-online.com

    • I didn’t say it was new, only that I had trouble finding it. And I wager the Baccarat was a Ferari compared to my Peugeot!

      My power wasn’t out very long, luckily. Glad you fared well, too.

  2. The Ferrari of Champagne flutes is more likely the Zalto — http://www.vintryfinewines.com/zalto-champagne-glass — If you haven’t tried one, you are missing out.

    • But that’s not exactly a flute, as it widens about halfway up rather than staying mostly straight. The wide part is lower than my ideal (and of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder), and similar to a Spiegelau glass that I had been using before discovering the Peugeot. So the Zalto is in the same school of sparkling glasses …. and it also has that hand-blown bottom to focus the bead.

      Anyone else have a favorite Champagne glass?

  3. Lucie says:

    Be sure to rinse out ASAP. No matter how delicious, there is always a last drop in that vanishing-point bowl which over time can get gummed up and hard to clean. My first car was a 10 year-old Peugeot 403 so this would be a sentimental favorite.

  4. ed oldfield says:

    My favourite for the last 25 years hes been the Impitoyable #4. See the discussion from Ed Mc carthy winereviewonline.com from 7/20/10. I think he is spot on:

    My very favorite Champagne glass has a French name, Les Impitoyables (which means “the Pitiless Ones”). Les Impitoyables glasses made their debut in the U.S. in the 1980s. They’re called The Pitiless Ones because they were designed by their shape to reveal any flaws in aroma or flavor in wines. I bought a set of the four different types, and frankly I found them to be difficult to use except for the Champagne glass, which I found to be amazing. It is shaped very much like a wide tulip (large in the middle, narrow at the mouth), but it also has ridged interior surface, which apparently heightens aromas and flavors, and keeps the Champagne vibrant and lively by agitating its bubbles. Also, the Champagne seems to have more depth and intensity of flavor in this glass. I have been using the Les Impitoyables Champagne glass for about 25 years, and it has definitely heightened my enjoyment of Champagne.

    Les Impitoyables glasses did not do well in the U.S. when they were introduced, and they quickly disappeared from the country. Recently, a friend found them online by keyword searching the term. Les Impitoyables, Glass #4, For Champagnes and Sparkling Wines, is now being made by Peugeot of France. I have tried the “new” Peugeot version. The glasses are exactly the same shape and size. But they are lighter in weight than the original Impitoyables Champagne glass, and the inside of the glass is not so deeply ridged as the original glass. I did a tasting test, and found that both the original Impitoyables Champagne glass and the Riedel Grand Cru (Sommelier Series) out-performed the new Impitoyables Champagne glass made by Peugeot. Still, the new Impitoyables Champagne glass is considerably better than most other Champagne glasses that are available today. A U.S. company called Wine Erotica is selling them online for $49.95 each. If you happen to be in Paris (or possibly London), you still might be able to find the original Impitoyables Champagne glasses in shops or department stores that sell wine glasses. Meanwhile, you can easily find Riedel’s Grand Cru Sommelier, a very fine Champagne glass, in the U.S.

  5. I actually use very similar glasses from Villeroy & Bosch. They also do a good job for young rieslings.

  6. Wallace Saetteurn says:

    Wine glasses that are made from crystal glass are the best. I always buy sparkling wine glasses on our local store and they really look great.:*’`’

    Regards
    http://www.caramoan.ph“>

  7. I agree, not always easy to find the tulip glasses. I still enjoy champagne in cups at the aperitif, even if it’s not ideal for a complex cuvée. If I don’t find tulip glasses I use standard white wine glasses, you loose some sparkling, but gives enough air to a vintage or complex champagne.

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  9. Will Moore says:

    Dearest Mr McIntyre,
    I’ve just had an extreme spot of luck..visited a certain charity shop somewhere..and chanced upon a boxed set of 6 of these glasses, unused and in perfect condition. Got them home cleaned them and my oh my, wet your little finger hold the base firmly at the edge and circle the lip of these delicate beauties and listen to the resonating sound! I am 45 and have NEVER heard louder or seen the rim vibrate more with the produced frequency, simply gorgeous!
    More sickening still was the shocking price tag of £4 for 6 of these beauties..I will now go and drown my sorrows in them with the appropriate tipple, cheers sir!

  10. Peter Miklos says:

    Richard Juhlin – probably currently the best champagne expert created his perfect champagne glass. http://www.reijmyre.co.uk/newsArticle.php?id=11

  11. Pingback: Some top-notch bubblies for the holidays | Dave McIntyre's WineLine

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