Champagne saucers and champagne flutes are two styles of stemware that are designed for champagne and sparkling wines. Champagne glasses, like other white wine glasses have longer stems so that the fingers can grasp the glass by the stem instead of the bowl. This prevents the hands from transferring heat to the bowl and warming up the champagne inside.
Champagne “saucers” are the type of stemware one normally associates with champagne. This style of stemware is short and has a wide, shallow bowl that can hold between three to four ounces of liquid. A second type of champagne glass is the “flute” which is a much taller style of wine glass. Flutes are usually eight inches tall and can hold between five to six ounces of fluid. The deep bowl combined with a narrower mouth is designed to preserve the bubbly quality of the champagne by exposing less of the liquid to the air. Champagne served in flutes tend to hold onto their effervescence much longer than the saucer style of glass.
The style of champagne glass you choose is strictly a matter of personal preference. The saucer types work well for small crowds who only want enough champagne for a toast. For slow sipping or for serving champagne to a larger crowd, the flute style is probably best.
Washing and care of your champagne glasses
Because champagne glasses are so delicate, they tend to break quite easily. While some styles are labeled as “dishwasher safe”, they are only safe as long as the glasses don’t bump up against another other object or fall over during the spray. To avoid breakage, it’s always best to wash these glasses by hand and never, ever put them in the sink for “soaking.”
The French style of washing a champagne glass is by using only hot water and the fingertips since even trace amounts of any soap left in the glass can prevent champagne bubbles from forming. A soapless wash is done by filling the glass with moderately hot water, running the fingers around the rim to clean, dumping out the water and refilling again with hot water. After a few moments, the glass can be emptied and placed upside down on a clean towel to air dry.
While this might work for intimate parties, in light of Swine flu and other nasty bugs going around, my preference is for using soap. To wash a champagne glass with soap, fill up the glass with hot water, place a drop of dish washing soap on the tip of the fingers, and run the fingers around the rim. A tiny dot of soap is all that’s needed to even remove tough lipstick stains. The cleaned glass should then be rinsed thoroughly in hot water twice, then placed upside down on a clean towel to air dry. In the event of stubborn residual or stains at the bottom of a fluted glass, a bottle brush can be used for those tough to reach places. Trying to the clean the inside of a flute with a rag often results in the glass breaking.
It’s impossible to serve up champagne at a party without the proper glasses such as a champagne flute or saucer. And, by following these washing instructions, you and your guests will enjoy using even the most delicate of champagne glasses for many years to come.