We all know that consumer trends will come and go. Whether it’s fashion (the psychedelic, tie-dyed 60s), technology (the popular Sony Walkman from the 1970s!) or food (every 1980s dinner menu had blackened fish on it! Thank you Paul Prudhomme). The list could go on and on.
The world of wine is no exception. For example, the popular California white wine back in the 1980s and up until recently was the big, buttery, oaky style. Consumers are now desiring wines that are more complementary to the food they are eating. Many California winemakers are changing the style of their wines to a leaner, more focused one, which means more time in stainless steel and less time barrel aging, especiallly in new oak.
Trends in the wine world extend beyond grapes, winemaking and the final product as well. Recently I popped open a bottle of Pol Roger Vintage 2004 champagne (a gift given to me at that esteemed Champagne house itself!). When I handed a glass of this liquid gold to my husband he asked why it was being served in a white wine glass instead of a flute. My answer was that hardly anyone in the wine business would choose to drink champagne from a tall, narrow flute. A white wine glass, especially a tulip shaped one, is a better choice because of its wider bowl and narrower opening which lets you swirl the champagne and smell more of the aroma.
But then I remembered the popular champagne coupes which were in fashion here in the US from the 1930s right up until the 1980s. Can’t you just picture Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman clinking their coupes together and looking so glamourous in the 1940s movie Casablanca?! Why did the coupe go out of style? Well apparently it took all those years for people to realize that the shape of the glass lets the bubbles dissipate too quickly and that the short stem meant people were holding the bowl and warming the wine too quickly.
The resulting popularity of the champagne flute addressed these issues but was mostly about the visual effect and designed to retain carbonation. Certainly, Champagne flutes are still very popular with consumers. But at most of the Champagne houses they serve their champagne in white wine glasses as the best means to preserve and enhance the delicate aromas. It seems to me that consumers are starting to follow this trend begun by wine professionals. In general, the average consumer nowadays is more sophisticated about wanting to maximize the taste experience from their food and beverages and that is a good trend in my book!
So there you have it! Enjoy your champagne out of a glass slipper if that’s how you prefer it, but you will get the most of the delicious aromas if you simply serve it chilled, in a white wine glass.
Here are some of my favorite Champagnes ranging, on average, from $34 to $225:
Duval-Leroy Brut Non Vintage $30
Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut Non Vintage $35.00
Francoise Bedel L'Ame de la Terre Extra Brut Millesime $80
2004 Pol Roger Vintage Brut $85.00
Alfred Gratien Cuvee Paradis Brut $105
Krug Grande Cuvee Non Vintage $175.00
2002 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut $225