David Gire weighs in on the champagne flute in this Wine Enthusiast article.
Excerpted from Wine Enthusiast
Giving the Champagne Flute Some Well-Deserved Love and Support
The much-maligned Champagne flute needs a hero. One editor stands up for them as the ideal sparkling wine vessel, with help from a scientist and psychologist.
BY JAMESON FINK
As an ardent defender of the Champagne flute, these are tough times. The headlines proclaim, “The Tragic Flute: Why You’re Drinking Champagne All Wrong.” Sommeliers sneer and say, “Flutes? We’re adults. We use real wine glasses.”
Waiving the flag for flutes has brought me notoriety. Whenever an anti-flute missive is published, friends love to tag me and rub it in my face. Most recently? “You don’t use flutes,” says Maggie Henriquez, president and CEO of Krug. “You see, using a flute is like going to a concert with ear plugs.”
Et tu, Krug?
Well, I’m doubling down. The flute is the ideal glass for Champagne, and I’ve called in a couple experts to help make the case.
On my list of bubbly scholars was David Gire, assistant professor at the University of Washington’s psychology department, who analyzed wine-specific olfaction literature that covers linguistics, psychology and sensory neuroscience.
He believes that “the everyday magic of multisensory integration” and the work of the trigeminal nerve, which is separate from our sense of smell and ferries sensations from our face to our brain, overcome the limited headspace of a flute. Basically, the visual spectacle is key.
“[V]ision accounts for a large portion of our perception of flavor—just try eating a steak that has artificially been colored green,” says Gire. “The iconic appearance of Champagne [is] in a flute, which will tend to reignite our memories of celebrations past. It is not just that these factors compensate for reduced smell, but rather that they can make the smell and taste of the Champagne better.”