One summer day, I found myself in the mood for some Champagne. Flute is a Champagne bar located at 40 E 20th St and it happened to open earlier than most wine bars do, so I headed over there. I was a bit too punctual with my arrival because they had opened about 30 seconds before I stepped through the door. Judging by the staff’s reaction, they don’t see to many people in there at that time of day. Whoops! As I looked over the menu, the staff made their last preparations and were fully ready for me by the time I decided what I wanted to order. From that point on, the service was very professional and courteous.
The place has a party vibe even at 4pm. It mixes retro with modern - the place was decorated with vintage looking round metal tables, 1920s style chairs, bubble chandeliers, graffiti-ish paintings of Marilyn Monroe and other bombshells of the time. There was also a private area that was set on a small stage, complete with velvet ropes. To top it all off, techno flapper music was playing. I could almost envision the Great Gatsby themed parties that take place here - girls wearing pearls and tipsily sloshing their coupe glasses filled with champagne. I’ve basically just described a commercial. It was a bit much for me - I felt tipsy without even taking a sip of champagne.
Wine by the flute (see what I did there?) was $12 to $55, with the average glass being $17. Bottles started at $45 and the most expensive was $3,000. They also offered a flight of 3 champagnes or roses, priced at $32 and $35 respectively. I appreciate the fact that the vast majority of their wine list is real champagne - from Champagne, France. Everything else is just sparkling. Some Cava and sparkling wines from the US and Italy also made an appearance on the menu to add a little diversity. Thumbs up for the selection.
I felt like being fancy, so I ordered the Paul Goerg Blanc de Blanc 2002 for $20 a glass. In addition to feeling tres fancy, I selected it so that I could give you some interesting tidbits about Champagne. Blanc de Blanc appears in some Champagne and it means that the wine is made with 100% Chardonnay. Most Champagne is made with a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. Yes, Champagne uses red grapes! The reason the wine looks completely white is because the wine does not have any contact with the grape skins during fermentation, which is where red wine gets its color. The red grapes are used to add body, aroma, and red fruit flavors. Chardonnay provides the freshness and elegance to the Champagne, so a Blanc de Blanc will exhibit these delicate characteristics. The second reason I ordered this wine was because it’s a 2002 Champagne. Most Champagne in the market is nonvintage and uses a blend of wine from different years so that it has a consistent flavor. But perhaps two or three times every 10 years or so, the harvest happens to be so exceptional that it is not blended and bottled as a vintage Champagne. However, part of this amazing vintage is still reserved to use in the nonvintage blends, so you still get to drink it without paying top dollar. Woohoo!
The Paul Georg Champagne smelled like bread dough and a little nutty. It tasted like pear, almond, and fresh bread. The dough and bread qualities come from the prolonged contact with yeast as the wine is aged. Now, I don’t drink Champagne as often as I would like, so I’m not even close to being a connoisseur, but I’ve had better 2002 Champagne. This wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t pay $20 for a glass of it again.
I liked the selection that Flute offered, but I would like to separate the wine from the location. This is either going to make me sound like a grandma or a giant ass, but this would have been my scene nearly a decade ago. My partying days are behind me and I prefer a chill, intellectual environment where I can drool over a wine list and talk about arthritis wine with the other old ladies geeks in the bar. Flute just seems like a loud lounge that happens to specialize in champagne. If that’s what you’re looking for though, you’ll really enjoy Flute. It’s just not a place I would go to anymore. I give this place a rating of 3 out of 5 flutes.
The private are of the bar. So much red. So much velvet.
My glass of Champagne