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Should Champagne flutes be outlawed?

There is a groundswell of opinion in the wine trade behind the chief executive of glass maker Riedel Crystal, who recently told decanter.com that he wishes to see the back of the Champagne flute.

Champagne Flute science

Champagne glassware tests at the University of Reims. Image credit: Hubert Raguet/University of Reims

Maximilian Riedel recently told decanter.com that 'it is my goal that the flute will be obsolete by the day that I pass away’.

His comment led to a debate in the March issue of Decanter magazine, out this week. Gerard Liger-Belair, a scientist who has spent several years looking into Champagne and glassware at the University of Reims, said that tall flutes were a 'naive' choice of glass, because the narrow opening can stifle aromas.

But, Champagne served in wide-rimmed 'coupes' that were popular in the early 20th Century loses its fizz too quickly, and so often appears 'poorly aromatic', he added. 'From a strictly analytical point of view, the tulip is the best,' he said. 

Last week, the issue cropped up again at London’s Westbury Hotel, which launched its Sparkling Quartet series of Champagne dinners, in partnership with Laurent-Perrier.

Though most of the Champagnes were served in flutes, the Japanese-inspired starter was accompanied by two glasses of Laurent-Perrier’s Ultra Brut, for comparison: one pre-poured into a white wine glass, the other served immediately after opening, in a flute.

When asked for his views on the debate, David Hesketh, Laurent-Perrier’s MD in the UK, came down firmly on the side of the bigger glass.

‘Champagne is a neutral wine by definition, and the more help you can give it to express itself, the better. In a flute you get the sparkle and nothing else. A white wine glass allows you to really appreciate a Champagne’s subtlety, as a wine.’

With dates in March, June, September and December 2014, the dinners are held in the hotel’s penthouse suite, with each course prepared by one of the hotel’s four chefs: Michelin-starred Alyn Williams, Michelin-starred Eric Chavot, Brian Fantoni and Show Choong. Each course is paired with a different Laurent-Perrier Champagne.

What do you think? Are you wedded to the traditional flute for Champagne?

Read more about this debate in the latest issue of Decanter. Subscribe here.

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