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A to Z of Wine Glasses

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Wines are enjoyed by people of all classes and ages. They are aware how important is it to enhance mood of a party by a great wine. But most of these same people are extremely casual about wine glasses. But should they?

This blog delves into wine glasses and their shapes. Enhance your knowledge to enhance your popularity among your family and friends when it comes to serving quality wines in their dedicated glasses!

Wine glasses are defined by their shapes. Why are they shaped the way they are?

If you are not a serious wine drinker, any glass would do. Chances are you would not register the nuances of the wines for which these alcoholic beverages are enjoyed throughout the world. The shape of a wine glass is very important who prefer to delve deeper in their choice of wines. And there is a whole lot of science to it.

Let’s begin with the physical elements of a typical wine glass.

Starting from the bottom:

The base: Tasked with keeping the whole glass in vertical steady position, these are easy to understand. No rocket science here. You would be crying over the difficult spots wines leave if spilt without a well-balanced base.

The stem: You might have noticed the stem, long or short, but nevertheless present, if it is a wine glass in your hand. They are there for two important reasons:

  • To not allow hands to warm the wines that are meant to be enjoyed cold. Hands can swiftly warm the wine if needed by cupping the bowl. Else, you would simply have to let the stem do the job for which it is there.
  • To not let any smell that lingers in the hand to mask or overpower the fragrance of the wine in the glass by keeping the hands away from the rim. Serious wine drinkers go as far as holding the wine glass by base rather than the stem.

The bowl: As with all kinds of bowls known to the human beings, this is where the content, which in this case is a wine, goes. Wines are best tasted when they release their aromas they are known for. The shape of the bowl allows swirling of the content to release even the most nuanced of the aromas. The process creates a vortex in the centre and thus gets released the aromas. This is the reason the best of the wine glasses have wider bowl and a narrow rim to not let aromas escape without meeting your nose. Ideally, the glass if filled to the one-third of the glass to allow the swirling to take place without spilling the content. Since larger bowl allows more area to swirl, red wine glasses are marked by wider bowl than the whites.

The rim: Who would have thought that even that could be important, who other than non-serious wine drinkers. Since rim is where your lips meet the wine, having it thin can drastically influence perception of the wine. You would want to feel your wine even before it hits your taste buds.

Do all the wine varieties have different glasses to experience them (better version of drinking which is just gulping the contents down your throat)?

Market is flooded with numerous brands and types of glasses wine is taken from. You can go as crazy as you want to depending on your ability to spend, but the best strategy is to have three different kinds of glasses to make your collection, one for each:

  • A set of white wine glasses: These have wider bowl and shorter stem.
  • A set of red wine glasses: Bowl size is smaller than the reds but have slightly longer stem.
  • A set of flutes, for sparkling wines: These are tall and thin glasses with even narrower rim to not let aromas escape through the bubbles.

What each shape of different wine glasses is meant for?

With three main types of wines, three types of glasses (read shapes!) come up. Brands would like to market more: a glass for every single variety of wine. But since you would not want to negatively impact your budget, here are the main three:

Red:  Things to look for:

  • A wide bowl
  • A narrow rim
  • sufficiently tall to swirl without causing spill

White: Things to look for:

  • A narrower bowl (as compared to the red wine glass)
  • Even narrower rim
  • And a stem (an absolute necessity for wine geeks)

Sparkling: The only glass that enhances sparkline wines’ experience is a Flute. These have:

  • Long, narrow, elegant bowl.
  • An etching in the base

What more one must know about Flutes?

Flutes are tall glasses where bubbles at the bottom rise to take aromas and flavours with them to the wine drinker. There would be a flat flute and the one with etching in the base which allows bubble formation. The process of bubble formation is termed nucleation. Swirling the sparkling wine is not required since all the hard work is done by the bubbles to feel the aromas.

Even white wine glasses would do OK if you are not ready to part with your money for flutes specifically. However, if you love sparkling wines, love them more in their dedicated wine glasses which are the flutes.

Do dessert wines taste better in their own separate glasses?

Not necessarily. White wine glasses can do the trick if spending is not on mind, especially for the sweet –styled wines. Fortified wines can be enjoyed from any of the wine glasses you have. Only the extremely sweet-tasting wines need their own glasses.

Should one pick wines glasses made of glass or crystal? Why?

Taste doesn’t get impacted by the material of the glass nut appearance surely does. Crystal glasses make the wines, well, crystal clear along with being thinner and stronger than glass which also leads to great tasting due to lesser rim thickness. Opt for un-leaded crystal as the lead can leach into the wine in a leaded glass, especially meant for a decanter!

Is having a separate glass for all the wines an absolute necessity? If not, which one glass can be used as multipurpose for wine drinking?

Only nuanced flavours would be missing if at all to your notice is you drink all the wines from a single type of glass. A single, well-made wine glass shape could be your go-to glass if you do not believe in spending and stocking dedicated wine glasses for all sorts of wines. Experts use and recommend the Riedel Ouverture Restaurant Red Wine glass for such a singular buying and keeping. A mix of Riedel and Scott Zwiesel wine glasses also do great.


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