How To Select The Best Glasses For You And Your Wine
You can drink wine from any vessel you like, be it a wine glass, coffee mug, mason jar, or dixie cup. Heck, you may ditch the glass altogether and drink straight from the bottle for all I care.
In the event you’re drinking to get sloshed, it doesn’t really matter.
That said, if you happen to be trying to taste your wine then some glasses do work better than others. There really is some science to back this statement up.
Utilizing the proper glass improves the taste of wine. They usually don't cost you a fortune either. (Except of course, you’re obsessed…)
The Importance of Using the Correct Glass
Now there actually is a piece of scientific proof that supports the importance of glass shape.
In 2015, a Japanese medical group used a particular camera to document images of ethanol vapors in various glasses. In their research, the group confirmed that different glass shapes affected the density and position of vapors at the openings of different glasses.
Why do vapors matter? Well, they carry aromatic compounds into your nose. Aromatic compounds are responsible for producing the vast majority of flavors in wine.
Why are there so many different glasses for wine?
Of the numerous completely different wine glasses out there, you’ll discover that certain shapes are better for enjoying certain kinds of wine.
By the way, it doesn’t really matter if your glass is stemmed or stemless. It’s more about how the shape of the vessel collects aromas and deposits wine into your mouth. (I know a few of you fanatics will strongly disagree! 😉 )
Below is a summary of the main glass shapes and the wines that tend to perform better in these shapes.
First things first. You understand those stemmed glasses that you just fill all the way to the top? Those aren’t wine glasses. They’re hipster cups.
To be able to taste flavors in wine you actually need space above the wine to collect aromas.
White Wine Glasses
White wines are usually served in smaller bowled glasses. Smaller glasses:
- Preserve floral aromas
- Keep cooler temperature
- Express more acidity in wine
- Delivers more aromas (even at cooler temperatures) because of the proximity to the nose
You’ll notice that full-bodied white wines like Viognier, White Rioja, and orange wines are better with a larger bowl.
The larger bowl, originally launched by Riedel as a “Montrachet” glass , better emphasizes a creamy texture because of the wider mouth.
Red Wine Glasses
The selection of a red wine glass has a lot to do with mitigating the bitterness of tannin or spicy flavors to deliver a smoother tasting wine.
After a number of years of tasting wines from different glasses, we’ve seen that red wines tend to taste smoother from a glass with a wide opening. Of course, the distance to the actual fluid affects what you smell.
Large “Bordeaux” Glass
This glass shape is best with bolder red wines, the likes of Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux Blends.
- Delivers more aroma compounds vs. the burn of ethanol from being farther from nose
- They have a bigger surface area to let ethanol evaporate
- Wider opening makes wines taste smoother
“Standard” Red Wine Glass
A great glass for medium- to full-bodied red wines with spicy notes and/or high alcohol.
Spice is softened because flavors hit your tongue more progressively from the smaller opening. Try wines like Zinfandel, Malbec, Petite Sirah with this glass.
Aroma Collector “Bourgogne” Glass
A great choice for lighter more delicate red wines with delicate aromas. The large round bowl helps collect all of the aromas. Try this glass shape with Gamay, Zweigelt, St. Laurent, Valpolicella blends, and even Nebbiolo!
Specialty Wine Glasses
You may find a reason to pick up a couple of specialty wine glasses depending on what you tend to drink the most.
For instance, we cannot live without our official Port glass (shown above on the right). It’s small size and slim mouth reduces evaporation (it’s a high alcohol wine).
That said, I’ve broken almost every Champagne flute I’ve bought. (flailing arm syndrome)
What About “Universal” Glasses?
A number of glass manufacturers including Zalto and Gabriel Glas provide a “universal glass.”
This is a nice concept for the space-saving, pragmatic enthusiast who doesn’t wish to bother with all of the different shapes. Both aforementioned glass brands are of outstanding quality (starting at $30 a stem!), so it’s hard to fuss over the subtle variations in taste delivery.
That said, if you happen to be someone who “only drinks bold reds” you might be better served with a biggy-sized Bordeaux glass (just like the one displayed above).
Questionaire: Which Type of Wine Glasses Should I Get?
Answer these questions honestly to determine what kind of stemware to buy.
- Do you hand wash special kitchen instruments such as knives?
- Do you have places to keep tall wine glasses?
- Do you enjoy a glass of wine nearly every evening?
- Do you wash your dishes after dinner?
- Do you find pleasure in cleaning and organizing your kitchen or bathroom?
- Do you have protected areas that are off-limits to children?
In case you answered mostly “No” Owning fine crystal stemware will drive you insane. As an alternative, get glassware or stemless crystal glasses. These will be simpler to maintain and won’t give you a conniption in case they break. You can even wash them in the dishwasher.
For those who answered mostly “Yes” You're neurotic enough to maintain crystal glassware clear and sparkly. (Yes!) You should look into getting a set of 6 matching crystal wine glasses that you can use for years to come.