If you’re a wine enthusiast and you’re looking to elevate your wine tasting experience, you probably know to pay attention to different factors. You’d probably determine the bottle you purchase based on the brand, the year, and how long the wine has been aged. You may already have a specific taste you prefer. But did you know that the glass you drink your wine from also affects the experience? When dining out at restaurants, you’ll notice that not all wine glasses look the same. This isn’t just for aesthetic purposes. The slight differences in each glass’s shape and material can bring out different elements in the wine. Read on to learn more about the way wine glasses affect your wine.
Wine glass basics
All wine glasses are made of four parts. Going from top to bottom, a wine glass comprises the rim, bowl, stem, and base.
Rims differ in thickness depending on the glass. Some glasses have thicker rims, while others are very delicate. Thin rims allow for easier passage of wine from the glass to the mouth. This provides less distraction when drinking. On the other hand, thicker rims are usually a sign of a cheaper glass.
The bowl is the most important part of the glass, as it’s where the wine is poured. Swirling the wine is a part of proper wine tasting; therefore, the bowl should be large enough to accommodate this movement without spillage. All bowls are tapered to varying angles toward the stem. This helps to retain the wine’s aroma.
This is the part of the glass you hold onto. The proper way to hold a wine glass is by the stem, as holding the bowl will alter the temperature of the wine.
Placed at the bottom of the stem, the glass would not be stable without the base.
Crystal vs. glass
The material that a wine glass is made of also makes a difference. There is a longstanding discussion in the wine world, debating whether crystal or glass provides the best wine tasting experience. So what makes crystal stand out from glass? Firstly, the material contains minerals, normally some type of lead. This makes crystal a stronger material. It can be cut quite thin but still retain durability.
Compared to crystal, wine glasses cut from glass cannot be made as slender. They need to be cut thicker in order to still be durable. Variations on the material and the cut also determines whether or not the glasses can be washed in a dishwasher or if they need to be handwashed. At the end of the day, there is no winner. It all depends on preference and budget.
Types of wine glasses
There are endless variations of wine glasses, each slightly differing in bowl shape, stem, and rim thickness. Wine glasses are generally divided into what kind of wine the glass is designed to hold. This narrows it down to red wine glasses, white wine glasses, and sparkling wine glasses. Take a look into wine glasses designed for the most popular types of wine.
Chardonnay wine glass
The suitable glass for Chardonnay sports a U-shaped bowl. The opening of a Chardonnay glass is wider than other glasses, letting the wine move around to the sides of the glass. Drinking from a glass that is shaped this way lets the drinker taste the wine’s sweetness. The bowl is quite tapered to preserve the Chardonnay’s aroma, but the wider opening gives the wine a little room to breathe. This can also be used to serve wines such as Viognier and Semillon.
Sauvignon Blanc glass
Sauvignon Blanc is very aromatic and requires a glass that will highlight this quality. Compared to the Chardonnay glass, a Sauvignon Blanc glass usually has a taller stem. The bowl is not as wide as the Chardonnay’s. It concentrates the scents in the bowl. With this design, the drinker can catch whiffs of the wine’s floral aromatics as it travels from the glass to the mouth.
Because of the shape of the rim, the tongue naturally forms a U shape around the glass. The wine can then flow straight to the centre of the palate, avoiding the sides of the mouth that picks up acidity. The Sauvignon Blanc shares qualities with other white wines such as Pinot Grigio and Muscat Blanc. These wines can also be served in the same glass.
Cabernet Sauvignon glass
This traditional red wine goes best in a traditional wine glass. Red wines in general are higher in alcohol content and tannins. They need a glass with a taller and larger bowl so that there is some space between the wine and the mouth. A bigger bowl lets the tannins in the wine come in contact with more oxygen that can take some of the edge off. Due to similar qualities to the Cab Sav, you can also serve a Bordeaux in the same glass.
Pinot Noir glass
Pinot Noir is sweet, fruity, and acidic. Glasses designed for this wine have a very distinctive shape. They have a narrow rim, which widens and then drops down almost angularly to a taper towards the stem. This shape of glass lets the wine aerate in the wide bowl. Due to the narrow rim, the wine’s more subtle aromas can really brew in the bowl, before being released straight to the nose when the glass is tipped to drink. The result is a balance between the wine’s tannin in the mouth and a sweet fragrance in the nose.
Carbonated drinks like champagne, rosé, and other sparkling wine, are best served in a flute. The bowl on flutes are narrow and long in order to trap the carbonation in the glass. They usually come with a bead at the bottom of the glass. This serves as a nucleation site, where bubbles carbon dioxide can form at the base and quickly rise to the top.