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To start off enjoying wine, you need to be drinking it from a glass that doesn’t allow it’s qualities to droop and escape.
The great joy in wine drinking is indulging the senses in the complex aromas and taste of different wines. Obviously a wine glass will not change the flavours of a wine, but it can change your awareness of them. Specifically designed wine glasses are shaped to present and balance the flavours of a wine for a more pleasurable taste. For example: in a standard glass a red wine may taste strong and bitter, but in a Bordeaux or Burgundy glass the bitterness will still be there but less overwhelming, with other notes like the fruitiness becoming more apparent in taste, and hints of flavours becoming more discernible.
This is also true for the aromas of wine. These aromas are always there but they will escape through a poorly designed glass and be lost in your drinking experience. A good glass will preserve the aromas and funnel them to the nose through their shape. Suddenly, you’ll be able to identify intense aromas to add to your sensory experience of wine drinking (and you don’t have to be a wine snob to notice the contrast).
An important feature of a wine glass is for the glass to be very thin: thinner glass will keep the drink cooler, and a thin rim means that the wine will not be blocked but will hit the right regions of your tongue for maximum taste bud impact. Crystal glassware with unblemished clarity is also beneficial, so that you can see the exact colour of your wine. A stem is important in glassware as it means your hands will not warm up the wine, as it would if you held it at the bowl. A stem that keeps your hand away from the bowl will also ensure the appearance of your wine stays crystal clear.
‘Victoria Moore says in her book, How to Drink, that buying an expensive bottle of wine without decent glasses to drink it out of “would be like buying a state-of-the-art sound system and fitting it to cheap speakers.” the guardian online
One of the most important features of specially designed wine glasses is the shape. A wide bowl of a wine glass will allow for aeration and development of flavour and depth, while a narrow opening will reduce the impact of acid. A sloping shape, narrowing towards the aperture acts as a funnel for wine aromas (you should always leave room in the glass for the aroma to collect). These features will vary depending on the wine’s characteristics.
Basic Guide To Wine Shapes
The red wine glass is large with a wide bowl to allow the wine to ‘breathe’ and so develop deep flavours: the glass is designed for swirling, to aerate the wine and help release those bold aromas and thick flavours.
You will commonly see the variations of the Bordeaux glass for favourites such as Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Burgundy glass for wine such as Pinot Noir. With a Bordeaux glass the tapered sides direct the aromas to the nose and the wine is directed to the back of the mouth. In a Burgundy glass the slightly angled sides help create a full bouquet and direct the wine onto the tip of the tongue.
The white wine glass has a much smaller bowl than a red wine glass. This helps to keep the wine chilled. White wines do not need aeration like reds, so the mouth opening is much smaller. The narrow rim delivers the wine directly to the front of the tongue. The narrow bowl also leads aromas straight to the nose.
The sparkling wine glass is tall and narrow to preserve the bubbles. The narrow opening helps keep the wine chilled and the fizziness enjoyable. [FUN FACT: we heard that drinking sparkling wine or champagne from a white wine glass can be a lot more pleasant, as it balances the bubbles and makes the wine a lot easier to drink. But this may mean your expensive champagne is guzzled rather than enjoyed with polite sips in a smaller glass!]
Summary: So you want a specific shape made for the wine you’re drinking, with thin glass, made of crystal, and with a stem.
Ready to try it out for yourself? Head here.