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    Do Different Wine Glasses Make a Difference?

    Do Different Wine Glasses Make a Difference?

    Posted on 17 June 2022

    For anyone whose been out shopping for them before, you’ll know that wine glasses come in all kinds of shapes and sizes.
    If you’ve had a few years behind you as a wine drinker, then chances are that even within your cupboard at home you’ll have a fairly large selection of different vessels from which to choose from every time you decide to open a bottle.
    But why are there so many variations on the size and shape of wine glasses, and does it really make a difference?

    In this week’s blog we’ll talk about the theory behind different glass shapes, why and how it works, and which glasses to pick to get the most out of your wine without breaking the bank.

    Size and Shape of the Rim

    When we run our wine tastings, one of the most important things to get across is to make sure you coat all your mouth with the wine you’re drinking as different bits of your mouth do different jobs.
    The sides of your gums pick up acidity, the sides of your tongue pick up sugar, the middle of your tongue picks up fruit, and the back of your throat feels the alcohol. Put it all together and you can judge whether you like the wine and if you think it’s in balance or not.

    The theory behind the size and shape of the rim of a wine glass is that it shapes how the wine enters your mouth and which parts of your mouth the wine hits first and hardest. If you want to accentuate the fruit and minerality and less so the acidity, like for a fresh Gavi like THIS ONE from Francesco Rinaldi, then you’re after a thinner rimmed glass to shoot the wine straight onto your tongue.

    If you’re looking to show off the full array of the body and flavour of a wine, then you’re looking for a wider rimmed glass that shoots the wine to all parts of the mouth at once.

    You’ll pick up all the components including acidity, tannins (picked up on the gums and tongue), fruit, and alcohol. So for a complex, full bodied red wine like Caparzo’s Brunello di Montalcino you’ll be looking for a wider rimmed glass.

    Size and Shape of the Bowl

    The size and shape of the bowl of the glass is all about the capture of aromas in the glass.
    A deep bowl shape with a big diameter and a smaller opening at the top will obviously catch more of the aromas in the bowl allowing for you to pop your nose in and enjoy the evolving flavours as you slowly sip and enjoy.
    The stunning Barolo Riserva Bussia by Oddero would demand such a glass.

    If you have an aromatic white wine for example, full of fruit and floral notes that leap out the glass anyway, then you’re looking for a smaller bowl size to avoid overpowering the nose and giving the wine too much surface area.
    The case in point would be a wine like this Pinot Grigio from Russolo.

    Stem or Not

    The stem has two main functions. Firstly, it gives the glass some structure and adds to the aesthetics, whose importance are not to be sniffed at! Sparkling wine flutes are mostly dreadful for drinking wine from.

    It’s hard to sniff, swirl, and drink from…but…it looks good, it shows off the bubbles well, and it makes us feel in celebratory mood when the flutes start chinking over a toast of top class sparkling wine like this Alta Langa from Ettore Germano.

    Secondly, it’s to keep your grubby mitts away from holding the bowl of the glass and warming up the wine. If your white wine is meant to be served cool, or even if your reds need a bit of a chill like this Pinot Noir Classico by Cantina Tramin, it defeats the purpose if your 38 degree hands are bringing the wine up to ambient body temperature.

    That’s why it’s common practice to hold glasses by the stem, NB – There are a lot more wine glasses on the market that are stemless these days.
    In that case, don’t pour too much into the glass, so you’ll drain the contents before your sweaty palms have warmed up the wine.

    What Do I Need vs What Do I Want?

    There is a dizzying array of wine glasses out there.
    Unfortunately many are based on aesthetics as opposed to the enjoyment of the actual wine.
    Once you start aiming for glasses that have wine enjoyment at their hearts then the array gets even bigger, with the best wine glass makers in the world (such as Riedel or Zalto) offering different glasses for individual grape varieties!

    It does make a difference although you’ve got to have the money and a big enough cupboard to cope! For us mere mortals, however, here are some handy tips for a base case:

    - You only need two different wine glasses in your cupboard, so find a decent set of glasses for aromatic, fruity wines and a decent set of glasses for fuller, more complex wines

    - Always get clear glasses so you can see the colour and clarity of the wine easily

    - Aim for glass where the biggest diameter is at about a quarter to a third full and only fill the wines to that level to capture the aromas

    - Aim for glasses with stems for ease of handling and swirling

    If you follow those handy tips then you’ll hopefully get much more out of your wines going forward and save yourself the hassle of a hodgepodge of wine glasses in that kitchen
    cupboard!


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