Just as you select the most appropriate glass shape to enjoy your other favourite grape varietals and wine styles. So you should think about the glass designed to highlight and express the unique and specific characters of quality Prosecco sparkling wine.
Much more appropriate to appreciate and enjoy a quality Prosecco wine, especially if it is a D.O.C.G. or a ‘Rive’ or ‘Cartizze’ bottle, is the tulip shaped glass. The glass is tall, but curves outwards slightly at the mid-point of the glass, then curves inwards at the top. This design allows a little more space for gentle swirling, and focuses the aromatic notes towards the nose. Today buying a tulip shaped flute is relatively easy, as there are several choices available on the market, with several price-options made by quality glassmakers.
The glass shape gracefully maximizes the surface-to-air space, allowing subtle aeration within the glass and the development of exceptional aromatics. As Prosecco wine at all levels of quality has expressive aromatics compared to other sparkling wine styles, this is a key character to highlight for enjoyment.
The widely available tall, narrow flute is fine for most simple sparkling wines, especially if they are served very cold (i.e. at home or from a restaurant fridge, as extreme cold suppresses a sparkling wines aromatics). A slightly wider, tulip shape is much better, especially for complex Champagnes and quality D.O.C.G. Prosecco’s served at 8-10°C. Avoid the ‘coupe’ glass, unless you are pouring Prosecco over fresh berries or sorbet for an aperitif or dessert, as it does nothing for sparkling wine on its own.
Bubbles in a wine glass are formed when the carbon dioxide (CO2) dissolved in the wine reacts with a particle or irritation point on the surface of the glass; it forms a bubble, and then rises upwards. Some sparkling wine glasses have fewer irritation points or nucleation sites, tiny etchings that allow bubbles to form and rise upwards in a continuous stream. Since this gives the CO2 a targeted place to escape from, this feature can also help preserve carbonation as well. Example: Riedel flutes have tiny nucleation etchings at the bottom of the glass, resulting in a fine stream of beads emanating from this single spot. That is what will keep your sparkling wine carbonated the longest, but will express less youthful, citrus, fresh fruit aromatics, for which Prosecco is well known.
The tall, thin flute is a powerful bubble engine, delivering lots of flavour very quickly, and releasing lots of bubbles upwards. In a tall, narrow flute - there is a much higher concentration of carbon dioxide than in a wider, tulip shape flute. But there is so little air space at the top of the glass that this flavour is mostly lost to the surroundings. This is fine for simply sparkling wines, but doesn’t allow complexity to develop in quality D.O.C.G. Prosecco’s. For these more complex, older sparkling wines use a wider glass that curves back in towards the top.
Tall, narrow flutes may not be the best option for appreciating complex aromas in D.O.C.G. Prosecco’s and also vintage Champagne. But they will keep the bubbles in your sparkling wine last longer than a wider glass. Tall, elegant flutes are exciting to drink from, as typically something exciting has or is about to happen and to be celebrated.
Enjoying a D.O.C.G. Prosecco, out of an ‘aromatic’ shaped white wine glass, is also an option in order to taste the wines fruit characters in a way that is difficult in a tall, narrow flute. The bowl of the aromatic white wine glass is wide enough (wider than a tulip flute) for the wine to open-up, develop and release its vibrant, lifted aromas and ripe flavours. The inward-sloping sides at the top of the glass deliver the aromas to the nose and the bright, fresh flavours onto the correct part of the palate in a much richer way than a narrow flute can achieve.
For vibrant, aromatic, fresh, quality D.O.C.G. Prosecco wines, a tulip shape and even an aromatic white wine glass are more suitable and appropriate to the narrow flute. With an aromatic Prosecco it is more difficult to smell anything in the sparkling wine in the narrow flute because of its slender shape preventing the wine from coming into contact with oxygen; consequently, the wines aromas can’t open or develop. In contrast, the tulip or aromatic white wine glass gives the wine room to open, breathe and release its concentration of aromas. Also allowing you to tilt the glass towards you; with room to really put your nose into the glass and appreciate the wines lifted fruit aromas.
Because approximately 70% of what we taste in our mouth comes from our olfactory sense. Being able to adequately smell the wine is very important to overall enjoyment and appreciation of Prosecco. Also with Prosecco being produced with less pressure, CO2 inside the bottle (due to being made by the Metodo Italiano), the slightly larger more gentle bubbles - appear on the palate as being softer, more fruit forward and less dry on the finish.