The Origin of The Champagne Coupe

The origin of the champagne coupe has been debated amongst historians for centuries. The champagne coupe is stemware with a broad–bowled, saucer-shaped wine container standing on the stem above the base. The coupe was designed specially to serve Champagne and other sparkling drinks.

black and gray bottle

Who Was Behind The Champagne Coupe?

From Kate Moss to Karl Legerfied to Marie Antoniette and Empress Josephine, numerous anecdotes have associated the inspiration of a champagne coupe with women’s breasts. A famous historian of the 18th century recalls that German molders created a sculpture of the left side of Empress Jospehine’s chest, which sparked the idea to design the champagne coupe. The bowl’s opening was wide-mouthed and had a shallow base – something that impressed champagne drinkers at the time.

Is The Story Even True?

Although some historians doubt the event’s authenticity and dispute that Empress Josephine would have lent her chest for the shape of the glass, others believe that the mold might have been created before her marriage to Napoleon.

Historical records show that Josephine was proud of her femininity and was actively involved in several bragging debates of the time. Similarly, she was the head of a breastfeeding campaign launched during her second year as Empress. Historians believe that if the former records are authentic, there is a fair chance that she dedicated herself to the task as a mark of her femininity.

 Did You Know: The coupe was fashionable in France from its introduction in the 1700s until the 1970s, and in the United States from the 1930s to the 1980s.

The Other Side

Some historians believe Empress Josephine’s story is a myth. They claim that if the inspiration for the champagne coupe were taken from a woman’s chest, it would have been Marie Antoinette, the wife of Louis VIII from 1770 to 1793. Records of her scandal and excess also supports the claim around Marie Antoinette. 

Is Either Story Correct?

Regardless of how the coupe was first created, there are other examples of women’s breasts being used to create stemware similar to the champagne coupe. Model Kate Moss’ chest was recently used to design 34 exclusive glasses for a restaurant in London. (Nast, 2022)

The debate about the origin and shape of the champagne coupe is normally a party discussion. People enjoy sharing stories and debating the truth.

If the coupe’s shape doesn’t interest you, bring up Champagne bubbles. Some wine experts claim that there are more than 49 million bubbles in a 750 ml bottle, while some claim that the number is nothing more than a myth.

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This Day in Wine History

1500s: Champagne was first exported to England by Richard III, who became king in 1483. The English were fascinated with all things French at the time, so they were eager to try their new drink.

1755-1793: The shape of the Champagne coupe is believed to have been inspired by Queen Marie Antoinette’s preference for drinking from delicate china cups.

 1903: Glassmaker Louis Fieser created a new type of glass called borosilicate. It had a higher melting point than ordinary glasses and could withstand higher temperatures when being made into bottles for beverages like wine and beer.

Want to read more? Try these books!

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Reference:

  1. Nast, C., 2022. The Kate Moss Coupe. [online] British Vogue. Available at: <https://www.vogue.co.uk/article/kate-moss-champagne-glass-coupe-34> [Accessed 17 January 2022].

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