attention champagne drinkers – marie antoinette's boobs are back!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Some years ago, Georg Riedel had a revelation, and it changed our wine consumption habits as dramatically as the “discovery” of varietal labeling. Riedel’s inspired innovation was the premise – which he has successfully demonstrated to tens of thousands of cynics (such as yours truly) around the globe – that the shape of the wine glass actually impacts the flavor of the wine it holds.

As cockeyed as that assertion seems, it is true. And you don’t need to own Riedels to prove it. Take any six glasses – all different – and pour the same wine in each. I’ve done this with every imaginable combination, including cheap tumblers and the best Sommelier Series stemware. The wine will in fact taste and smell different in each.

Like many others when first presented with this astonishing news, I rushed out to buy sets of Riedels for all my favorite wines. Over the years, as more and more options were offered, it became impossible to keep up. And something else happened.

I stopped caring. Because if every glass makes a difference, then no glass reigns supreme. High end stemware is a lot like high end audio gear. The more expensive and revealing it is, the more flaws you detect. The gear pushes past the limitations of the source product.

Which brings me, in a roundabout way, to Marie Antoinette’s boobs. One of the enduring (and endearing) wine legends is that the Champagne coupe – that broad, flat, heavy-rimmed glass that was replaced by the tall, slim flute some decades ago – was modeled after one of the queen’s breasts.

Do a quick online search and you’ll find many versions of the story, as well as upstarts such as this Claudia Schiffer breast coupe (presumably for larger servings), designed by Karl Lagerfeld for Dom Perignon.

Well, all styles come and go, and sure enough, after a long run, de coupe fell from de grâce. The flute, said the sages, showed the bubbles better, kept the wine cooler longer, and who wants to stare at a dead queen’s bosom all night anyway? More recently, the flute has fallen from favor, as more traditional wine glasses are considered to be better suited to showing the subtle scents of fine Champagne.

But before I could re-up my Champagne Riedels, I received this disheartening press release, from the New York First Company.

Vintage coupes such as the one pictured here are back in vogue, says the NYF poop sheet, because... I can barely bring myself to type the words, but this is a direct quote: “Hard times are here again, and that seems to call for the less extravagant, more recession-appropriate coupe. Sipping from flutes went out of vogue with the economic meltdown.”

Okay then. Let’s re-cap shall we? The Champagne coupe, originally modeled after the Patron Saint of Decadence’s boob, is now “recession-appropriate”!?! Yes indeed, these are ”genuine, original Champagne Coupes as popularized at New York’s legendary Stork Club. Each festive glass stands 4 ½-inches tall and holds 5 ½-ounces of bubbly, its bowl-shape allowing for a greater appreciation of the bouquet of the drink.”

And wait’ll you hear the recession-appropriate price... $44 for a set of four! Wow, there’s a money-saver. And festive too! Correct me if I’m wrong, but can’t you find these things at Value Village or Goodwill for about 39¢ each?

My advice – spend your splurge money on the Champagne, and pour it into any old glass you have handy, or drink it straight from the bottle. And for further entertainment, check out this
Wine & Glass Guide on the Riedel website. Click on any type of wine-related beverage, from Ajaccio to Zweigelt, and watch as a rotating display of appropriate glasses magically appears. Guaranteed to keep you 'abreast' of all new developments in the fast-paced world of pricey stemware.


Cabfrancophile said...

I like the perspective on Riedel glass shape. I definitely find that glass makes a difference. But to somehow assume one glass is perfect for all Syrah or all Bordeaux is kind of absurd. There's at least as much stylistic variation within a varietal or region as there is variation between different varietals or regions. You could probably spend an hour matching a given wine to the ideal glass.

Brian Wing said...

Booze and Boobs, what else can you say! Cheers to both.


Jeff V. said...


While it is true that there is no 'perfect' glass for each wine, there are many glass options (and price points) in the Riedel catalog for people to purchase. The differences are striking, so if someone wants to drink Syrah out of their Riedel Cab/Merlot glass, I'm all for it. When they are using the 2lb Libby glass, well, that is a shame.

Wineries still haven't gotten a clue about this. I have visited hundreds of tasting rooms in CA/OR/WA and I'm always stunned at some of the glasses used. You want me to pay $50/btl but I'm trying it in a .99cent glass bought at Ikea?

As for Champagne, I prefer mine in a Bordeaux Glass.

Jacy said...

An appropriate glass will indeed make your wine drinking experience to be the best! Cheers!

Frank Haddad said...

The coupe glass is the worst glass ever for drinking Champange. Almost any good quality wine glass is better. The price on this is not that great either. I have found that the Reidel extreme seems to work best.

PaulG said...

Frank, I hope you realize this whole post is tongue in cheek...

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