It’s the final week of the year, which marks the peak of Champagne season. While we believe Champagne is one of the best food wines around, and should be consumed far more often than just special occasions, there is no doubt it is still the drink of celebration first and foremost, especially to ring in a New Year.

And, as you know, good quality Champagne doesn’t come cheap. A good bottle of Champagne is going to set a person back at least forty or fifty bucks, sometimes more than a hundred.

So here’s the big question: why spend that much on a bottle only to drink it out of the wrong glass?

You read that correctly: the flute is not the best vessel to experience Champagne.

Why are flutes traditionally used with Champagne? Mainly because they make the bubbles look pretty. The gentle helix arising from the bottom of the glass is a sight to behold, and there is no better way to see the magic than with a flute. However, when you think about it, a glass of that shape does nothing to help enhance aromas. As a matter of fact, the design of a Champagne flute actually helps hide faults in the wine … a little known fact that some big Champagne houses might not want you to know.

The Oregon Pinot Noir XL stem, left, is a far better vessel for enjoying Champagne than the traditional flute on the right.

(One thing many people forget is that Champagne is wine, and it should be treated as such. If you really want to get a sense of the quality of the juice going into your hard earned Champagne bottle, use a little trick that Terry Theise promotes: allow a half a glass to go flat, then try it as you would any other wine. How does it taste now? We’ve done this many times in our own experiments, and are amazed at just how bad the wine from some particular big name houses performs).

Anyway, back to the stemware. If you want maximum return on your bottle of Champagne, the best stemware to use is the Riedel Oregon XL Pinot Noir stem. Seriously. It’s a wonderfully big bowl that allows you to swirl the wine to your heart’s content (impossible in a flute), intensifying the aromas and thus delivering a very clear picture of the quality of the wine. This stem is a favorite around the office, and is our go-to stem for all things Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (such as, you guessed, Champagne).

Start 2013 off right … with the right stemware! The Oregon XL Pinot Noir stem is available through Wine Enthusiast, Amazon, and locally through your favorite wine retailers (if it’s not in stock, simply ask them to special order it from The Wine Company).

 

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