If You’re Using Soap to Wash Your Champagne Glasses, You’re Doing it Wrong

published Jun 2, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Joe Lingeman

As tempting as it is to put your stemware in the dishwasher, chances are even the occasional wine drinker knows better. The tall glasses rarely fit in the select few stemware holders (if you’re machine even has them!) and often come out cloudy — or, worse — broken.

But here’s something you might not know (I certainly didn’t, and I’ve been writing about household cleaning for more than 10 years): You should never use soap to wash glasses meant to serve Champagne, prosecco, or other sparkling wine.

At a recent virtual tasting hosted by Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, the winemaker Guillaume Roffiaen casually mentioned this little tidbit, and I had to know more.

“Using soap or any other washing liquid — detergent or rinse aid, for example — is not recommended when cleaning a Champagne glass, because these products tend to smooth the inner surface of the glass and alter the formation of bubbles,” he explains. If any residue is left (even residue you can’t see), the bubbles won’t have anywhere from which to “kick off,” he says, leaving your sparkling wine flatter than it should be not only in the glass, but also in the mouth.

That’s right, while a little soap may leave your glass sparkling, it could compromise the beverage itself — not something you want when you’re springing for a fancy bottle! Here’s how to wash your stemware the right way, according to Roffiaen:

  1. Wash them in medium-hot clear water without a sponge — your clean hand is enough, and sponges may have residue or bacteria on them.
  2. Rinse them thoroughly in medium-hot clear water.
  3. Let them drip upside down for a couple of minutes on a clean towel.
  4. Dry with a clean linen towel.
  5. Finally, stash your glasses upright in a clean, airy cupboard to avoid aromatic wooden furniture or wax smells.

Before you raise an eyebrow, know that there are no health implications of nixing soap. “Hot water will do the trick,” says Dr. Niket Sonpal, an internist in NYC. “Not washing Champagne glasses with soap is not as ‘risky’ in terms of bacteria as it would be to eliminate soap on a plate that had eggs or meat on it,” he explains. “When you dry the glasses, just be sure to use a clean, fresh cloth that has not been used to clean food items.  And do not use sponges or towels that have cleaned other items from the meal, so you do not risk cross-contamination.”