The Victoria & Albert Museum
The “flute” glass of the mid-Eighteenth century was developed both for strong ale and for champagne. Here, we see an example adorned with elaborate and expensive engraving. It has been decorated with scrolling vines and leaves which indicate that it was intended for sparkling wine.
Tall flute glasses such as this first became popular in the late Seventeenth Century. Set high on a glass stem, the high bowl allowed the beauty of the wine to be admired while remaining cool from the warming touch of the hands. Furthermore, when champagne became fashionable, the narrow flute glass was the ideal vessel due to its ability to preserve the bubbles.
Champagne was the stuff of the upper classes, especially among young men who had the opportunity to travel the European continent. The drink was a mark of wealth since, naturally, there was the expense of importing the spirit from France in bottles rather than in barrels.