Wine Glasses: What You Should Know

by Laurie on August 30, 2011

When you have found a wine you really love and it’s time to enjoy it, have you ever stopped to wonder what to serve it in?  Your wine glass can significantly affect the taste of your wine.  Picking the correct type of wine glasses to invest is one of the most important decisions a wine lover can make.

The Basics:

At a very minimum, your wine glass should be tulip shaped with a bowl that tapers as you get to the top. This helps keep the aromas in the glass and enhances your tasting enjoyment.  The bowl should be broad enough to allow for adequate swirling, which kicks up the wine’s aromas and vaporizes the alcohol making it accessible for smelling.  This is important since smelling your wine is 80% of the tasting process.

I recommend purchasing real crystal—more for functional reasons than beauty.  Crystal has a rough surface that helps agitate the wine when swirled, allowing us to better smell and enjoy the wine (it also increases the production of bubbles in Champagne).  The thinner the glass, especially the rim, the better the wine will taste.  Less glass, more wine—it just makes sense!  Try to find a glass that is at least 8-10 inches tall and made of clear glass with no etching or designs.  Colored or
decorative glasses affect the full enjoyment of the wine’s true color.

Sizing things Up:

The smaller glasses used for white wines allow their more delicate aromas to concentrate in the glass.  This concentration ensures we can smell the wines better, and as mentioned previously, smelling is the workhorse of tasting.  Conversely, larger glasses with broader bowls provide red wine greater surface area for swirling allowing the oxygen to unlock their fabulous flavors.  The bubbles found in champagne and sparkling wines benefit from the long slender flute shape.

In the 1960s Professor Claus Riedel first introduced his varietal-specific glasses after he noticed that the aromas, flavors and balance of different varietals were enhanced by the shape of the wine glass.  There are differences in the taste but they are subtle.  If you don’t have the budget (or cabinet space) for a multitude of different glasses, no need to worry . . . just be sure what you buy is good quality.

The Last Word:

As far as I am concerned, if you buy a quality set of crystal glasses for red, white and sparkling wine, you are totally prepared for almost any drinking occasion.  If you are truly on a budget, buy good quality, all purpose crystal wine glasses with the tulip shape, approximately 8-10 inches tall.  Some of the better brands include Riedel, Spieglau and Schott-Zwiesel.  Of course, each glass company makes several different lines in various price ranges from affordable to about as high as anyone might want to spend!

Photo Credit: zirconicusso / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Nancy Burton August 31, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Laura- I understand the importance of glasses when drinking wine. But, I have a question for you. We are building a pool/ pool house & I just don’t feel comfortable with glass & children by a pool. Do you know of any plastic wine glasses that you would recommend?

Laurie September 1, 2011 at 8:25 am

I think these are a nice option Nancy!
Clarus Unbreakable Plastic 10 oz. Wine Glass (Each)

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