Choosing the right wine glass:
One of the most overlooked elements that contribute toward the enjoyment of wine is the wine glass itself. Although many materials are available, from plastic to crystal ware, it is the shape of the glass itself that has the most impact on the wine. Each type of wine has an ideal shape to maximize the experience.
However, when choosing any type of wine glass it is important to take some things into consideration. Firstly, make sure the glass is clear – this will allow the drinker to appreciate the colour of the wine and also give them ability to draw conclusions based on this. Frosted, shaded or dyed glasses will obscure the wine and so make this impossible. If you are going to buy crystal glasses then be wary – they can often warp or skew the wine’s appearance.
Another important factor to consider is the bowl. This must be roomy enough to accommodate a generous pour but at the same time still give the drinker the ability to swirl the wine, which intensifies the aroma. Also ensure that the bowl tapers at the top and has a wide base – this allows aromas to be released and funnelled to the nose after a good swirl.
Although there are some exceptions every glass should have a stem, no matter the wine. The crucial point here is that body heat can warm the wine at a surprising rate. Although this can easily spoil delicate whites, it is important to consider that even reds above 24 degrees Celsius will become uncomfortably sharp due to the alcohol in the wine.
Red Wine glasses:
These are usually wide with a generous volume. This is due to the bold flavours and bouquets associated with red wines – if the wine has more space to breathe then the aromas are wider and more varied. Given the power of the aromas, the opening of the glass is usually expansive as well.
A very distinctive glass – due to the fruitiness of Pinot Noir the rim is turned out to maximize accessibility of the flavours for the palate. The bowl itself is very large, with a 35 ounce capacity and a tapered rim. The stem is quite stumpy in comparison to many white glasses!
A more petite glass than most other red wine varieties, with a 20 ounce capacity and an inwardly tapered rim. The stem is medium length with a wide base. The shape itself is in order to make the fruit aromas accessible, and then later the ripe tannins.
White wine glasses:
Here is a selection of some of the white wine glasses available. White wine glasses tend to have a smaller bowl than their red counterparts, together with a longer stem.
Chardonnay glasses possess an especially long stem, with the emphasis being on keeping the wine as cool as possible. The capacity usually ranges from 5 to 7 ounces, which allows the drinker to easily swirl the wine. These glasses have a wide bowl and a subtly tapered top.
Tall and narrow, the ideal Sauvignon Blanc glass readily offers up the wine’s innate freshness and rich aromas. Again, a long stem to ensure coolness can be found. The volume is between 5 to 6 glasses.
These are slender, tall glasses. The aim here is to direct the refreshing, fruity aromas toward the tip of the glass. The volume is usually between 6 to 7 ounces. Riesling’s sweetness demands a cool serving, and so a longer stem can also be found on these glasses.
Instantly recognisable, Champagne is served in glasses called flutes. This is a slim, tall affair that focuses the bubbles toward the very tip of the tongue. It also funnels the rich aroma of Champagne upon sipping. The volume is usually between 6 to 8 ounces, while the wide base is necessary to provide stability.
The port glass is a highly specialized instrument, given port’s high alcohol content, concentrated sugar and intense flavours. With a volume or 8 to 9 ounces, this is a modestly sized but intricate affair. The style minimises the pungent alcohol odour and instead places the emphasis on the delicious bouquet of black berries, pepper, subtle vanilla and soft oak.
These glasses are uniquely tailored to the potentially overpowering sweetness of the wine. The volume is highly tapered with a volume between 11 and 13 ounces. The overall shape permits a generous swirl but is small enough to carefully maintain the wine to open air ratio. In ice wine the shape boosts the sense of acidity in the wine, which serves to nullify some of the powerful sweetness.
As might be expected, wine glasses should be served at approximately the same temperature as the wine they hold. For whites this varies between 8 to 10 degrees Celsius. Lighter reds should be served at around 14 degrees Celsius, whereas fuller reds should be served at around 16 to 17 degrees Celsius. Sunlight will rapidly affect the temperature, so try and keep your glasses in the shade.
Washing your wine glasses:
This shouldn’t be overlooked! A lax approach may mean your wine glass is affected by water spots, or instead residual wine may very negatively affect your next tasting.
Rinsing can be a good approach – simply rinse the glass in hot water repeatedly until any residue is gone. Once this is done turn the glass over and rest it on a clean towel to dry of its own accord. If you want your glass to really sparkle, steam it over boiling water before allowing it to air dry.
Alternatively, use one drop of a very mild detergent in every glass you are washing before using a clean cloth in warm water. Afterwards, rinse the glass until you are sure no soap or bubbles are lingering. Residue soap will spoil your next pouring.
If you have crystal or very expensive glasses then mix cleaning soda in the glass with warm water before gently swirling it around. The soda will thoroughly clean the glass while absorbing any stubborn wine stains. This results in a truly pristine glass for your next special occasion.
Storing your wine glasses:
Keep them in a separate location from other glasses and, ideally, hang them upside down so that they don’t chip when you retrieve them. It may even be advisable to install a wine rack on the underside of a counter or bar. If you are fortunate enough to have one then ensure the glasses are spaced at least one inch from one another.
Keep crystal glasses far away from strong smells and odours, such as spice cupboards, chopped onions, coffee makers and the whole kitchen area. These glasses are much more porous than ordinary glass and they can impart alien odours into the wine.
Tobacco smoke attaches itself to wine glasses, like most other surfaces. Be sure your glasses are stored in a well ventilated area should you have a smoker in the house. A wine glass with tobacco smoke residue will give rise to a foul tasting wine.
Wine glasses are central to the drinking experience. To truly maximize the experience it is important to use the correct glass for the given wine style. However, simply using a broadly suitable glass has a hugely positive impact on the enjoyment of wine.