Book: A Scent of Champagne: 8,000 Champagnes Tasted and Rated

Just in time for the holidays, the book, the definitive book, to champagne entitled A Scent of Champagne: 8,000 Champagnes Tasted and Rated. After the jump, there is an excerpt from this gorgeous, heavy, coffee table book on how to choose the correct champagne glass. Cheers!

Champagne Tasting

The Correct Champagne Glass

The wine taster’s most important tool, in addition to his own knowledge, is the wineglass. The importance of the glass cannot be overemphasized. The extra pennies you pay to drink a little finer champagne are completely wasted if you do not have access to real glasses.

In Champagne the champagne flute is most common. In the 1500s, some of the most beautiful flute-shaped glasses were made in the Italian town of Murano. Before disgorging of wine was developed, the sediment remained in the bottle, and the unique glass shape could collect the precipitate at the bottom.

The other typical champagne glass is called the coupe. In 1663, the mold was created for the first time by Venetian glassblowers. When American film had its heyday in the 1930s, the glass was renamed The Hollywood Coupe. Unfortunately, the coupe is still used in American movies, despite the fact that the glass is completely mis-designed for champagne.

Also very common are the narrow, dead-straight glasses. Although they concentrate the scent with help from the small opening, the wine surface is so small that very little of the champagne aroma gets released.

The most important principle of all good wine glasses is that the wine surface is greater than the glass opening, so that it helps to capture all the hundreds of fascinating aromas the wine emits. But there is, of course, a plethora of details that distinguish the best glasses from the good or ordinary.

Ten or fifteen years ago, there was hardly any good glass on the market. I understand that nostalgic reasons may make it difficult to let go of the old Helena glasses from Orrefors or Boda Bouquet from Kosta, which was once considered so fine. But please, hear my call and go and throw away those glasses—and with them the entire junk trend in the trash!

You will not regret it. Today, there are plenty of both functional and funky glasses for wine, and their main task is to accentuate the flavors the wine inherently has. Basically, every glassmaker looks to Riedel and other reputable glass manufacturers today. When I did my own Juhlin glasses for Reijmyre, I went a step further. I designed the entire series by blind tasting and modified the glasses until they were, at least to my nose, better than the competition. No aesthetic aspect influenced the shape of the glass.

Then, a few years later, I could not resist the temptation, even though I already had created the almost perfect champagne glass, to challenge myself again when the design firm Claesson Koivisto Rune contacted me to do a new series of glasses for Italian Italesse. The challenge was to make an equally good glass that was even more beautiful. Personally, I think we have succeeded.

I understand that it is tempting for a glass designer to make yet one more glass in a series, but I argue that it is only necessary to have four wine glasses: a red wine glass, a white wine, a glass for sweet wines, and one for sparkling wines. It is certainly true that certain tones can appear stronger in grape-oriented or district-oriented specially designed glasses, but the difference is marginal and completely overshadowed by the fact that there is an advantage to trying all red wines from the same glass to fairly compare styles and quality. The only single chance to have the same frame of reference is to stick to one and the same glass.