Last week I spent a day in Champagne country to interview Carol Duval-Leroy for my next book. It was a wonderful day despite the dreary grey weather and barren fields of pruned grape vines.
We had a marvelous lunch chez elle with, not surprisingly, lots of her Champagne, then a tour of the cave, the bottling process, an explanation of the grapes, and much more.
During our lunch there were three pretty glasses on the table, two for wine, one for water. There was not, however, what most of us imagine when we think of “les verres de Champagne.” The absence of the classic vessel was intriguing I thought so obviously I asked Carol about the best way to serve her divine wine.
“The best way to serve Champagne is in a white wine glass,” she said. “In that way you preserve the bubbles, which are dispersed and quickly disappear in a coupe and the opening of the white wine glass gives you the volume to appreciate the aromas of the Champagne, unlike the classic flute with its small aperture.”
The crystallerie house, Saint-Louis, now owned by Hermès, is the oldest glassmaking manufacturer in Europe (1586) and presents among its collections a stunningly sober vessel that is poetically described in this way : “Forgotten is the intimidating etiquette of the traditional dégustation: Twist 1586 proposes, without concern for color or origin, a choice as natural as it is universal: a glass for the young wine, a glass for the mature wine, a glass for Champagne. . .”
When I asked Carol Duval-Leroy her position on tulip flutes, she said they were an excellent alternative because their depth heightens the bubble experience while the opening allows the full sensual impact of appreciating the essence of the Champagne.
Since the very raison d’être of Champagne is the burst of bubbles (OK, let’s not quibble, the grapes, the process, but still. . .) it’s important that we work with the effervescence to achieve the maximum pleasure from one of life’s perfect little pleasures.
Oh yes, remember to hold the stem of the glass, not the bowl — whatever shape you may choose. You do not want your hand to warm the glass and thus diminish the chilly thrill of the Champagne.
How do you drink your Champagne?