Are You Drinking Sparkling Wine All Wrong?

It is pretty fitting that our first grape delivery of the 2016 Harvest was a batch of Chardonnay grapes destined for Blanc de Blancs-style sparkling wine as. (Pssst, did you see that announcement on our Instagram last week?) A little known fact of Laurel Ridge is that our founder, David Teppola was the first to produce a sparkling wine in Oregon, way back in 1986. In fact, it was one of the very first wines that Laurel Ridge produced at all! David believed in the romance of making and enjoying sparkling wine and it is a legacy we hope to continue for many years to come.

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Sparkling wine truly is a wine of celebration. Whether an intimate picnic with your significant other or the toast at a retirement party or wedding, it is difficult to imagine a celebration without sparkling wine (and we already know why wineries like us call it “sparkling wine” and not champagne). But did you know you might be drinking your sparkling wine entirely wrong?

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It’s quite common to see these saucer style sparkling wine glasses at parties and events, especially historically, but, unfortunately, it is one of the worst designs of a glass to enjoy champagne. It is rumored that this glass style was designed after Marie Antoinette’s bosom but we aren’t entirely sure if that is true or not. Either way it does make for an interesting story!

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What exactly makes the wide-brimmed glass a poor choice for our favorite sparkling beverage? Well, the fact that it sparkles, of course! The answer is in the nickname. Sparkling wine, affectionately referred to as “bubbly” needs a taller glass to preserve the bubbles. The greater the mouth of the glass, the faster the bubbles will escape to the surface, and nobody wants to drink flat sparkling wine. Unlike a glass of Pinot Noir or Chardonnay, not only is the nose of the wine an important aspect of drinking sparkling wine, but the bubbles themselves. It is the distinct character of the bubbles floating to the surface that deliver the joy and excitement to the lips of the imbiber.

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In addition to the bubbles, though, is the importance of enjoying the nose. The unique characteristic of the aroma of the wine, delivered by the bubbles intermittently floating to the surface of the wine via little tiny imperfections on the inside of the glass that completes the  experience. Without the nose, you may as well be drinking a glass of tonic water. Sparkling wine is wine after all, it simply turns into sparkling wine after a second fermentation process.  

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With a wide brimmed glass, your experience is more in favor of the nose, but you risk your drink going flat before you can say “salut!” But with a tall, slender champagne flute, you’re bubble-heavy without enjoying any of the nose (although you do suffer from that awkward moment with each sip where your nose taps the rim of your glass). So what is one to do in order to enjoy the true richesse of the sparkling wine experience?

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Drink from a glass that has the best of both worlds, of course! Tried and true wine glass titans like Riedel and Spiegelau both offer sparkling wine glasses that are both tall and slender but have a slight tulip or bubble towards the middle of the glass, with a slightly wider mouth (Riedel Vitis Champagne glass is pictured above). This allows the nose to come through at the appropriate location in the glass for the drinker’s enjoyment, while preserving the bubbles enough that you’re not drinking wine as flat as a bad joke. Makes sense when you think about it, doesn’t it?

While we love the history and brilliance of the story behind the saucer-style glass, as well as the nod to deco glassware, the impracticality of these glass styles just doesn’t seem to trump the reason for the glass in the first place- to enjoy a brilliant glass of sparkling wine. After all, what is the purpose of drinking wine if not to enjoy it?

Salut, everyone!

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Looking for more? You can visit our Tasting Room, located in the heart of Willamette Valley Wine Country, daily from 11:00am-5:00pm where you can taste the legacy of Laurel Ridge Sparkling Wine for yourself. We hope to see you soon!

note: this post contains affiliate links

Maija Teppola

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