When sparkling wine was first introduced in the 17th century, it did not yet have its own signature glass. Most vintages were simply poured into the wide-mouthed stemware still used to create bubbly, stacked fountain centerpieces at receptions today. Only later did the slender, tall silhouette of modern wedding champagne flutes become a popular choice.
It took nearly a century for them to arrive on the scene after monks had discovered a delicious and practical way to make bubbly wine. Standard wine glasses allow the tingly bubbles to escape more quickly, and release the signature fragrance into the air at a faster rate than desired for optimal enjoyment.
Like its silver-toned namesake, the stemware is narrow and tall. This intentional shape is not only pleasing aesthetically, but concentrates the tingle and buzz of escaping carbon dioxide bubbles at the glass mouth. It helps keep the wine from going flat as quickly after being poured, and enhances the entire sensual experience.
Although elegant, this shape also means that these glasses are also easy to break than sturdier, more traditional designs. During social occasions hosting hundreds of guests, they may not actually be practical for serving, because many are bound to be damaged. Even though fine crystal ware can be expensive, there are now practical substitutes.
Today, many hosts serve sparkling wines in glasses made of sturdy plastic, and these imitations have proven to be popular. Although serving wine in plastic may cause purists to recoil in horror, the end product is far less expensive, easily and safely disposable, and does not cause any injury if broken accidentally.
While standard wide-rimmed wine glasses are still recommended by some experts, the distinct shape of wedding champagne flutes remains the most popular choice. They are becoming standard for making toasts to a new couple, and when personalized are symbolic of a bond linking families, couples and the guests at these happy occasions.