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Wine Glasses 101: An Introduction To Basic Glassware

Red Wine Glasses

The world of wine is vast (and sometimes confusing!) but if you’re looking to embark on a mission to become a true wine connoisseur, it’s important to learn about all aspects of the experience, and this includes how to pick the right glass for the occasion. 

The Different Parts Of A Wine Glass

The first part of the journey is to understand the different parts of a wine glass itself, what they’re called and the purpose each serves. 

  • The Rim (or Mouth): This is the uppermost part of the glass that your lips touch as you sip. The thickness of the rim matters; thinner rims provide a smoother and more enjoyable shopping experience.
  • The Bowl: The bowl is the part of the glass where you pour the wine. A wider bowl makes it easier to swirl the wine before sipping. Swirling releases nuanced aromas that can be hidden in a stagnant liquid, revealing a more complex taste. Generally, red wine glasses have wider bowls than white wine glasses.
  • The Stem: The stem is the long, slender part of the glass that you hold without touching the bowl. Holding the glass by the stem helps maintain the wine's ideal temperature, ensuring the best possible taste.
  • The Foot: The foot is the circular base that keeps the glass stable and upright. Most wine glasses have this circular foot at the end of the stem, although stemless tumblers are an exception.

How A Glass Affects The Taste Of Wine

Though they may all look pretty similar, different wine glasses can change the whole drinking experience, the flavour and the aroma. Selecting the right wine glasses for the various types of wine you plan to serve is essential to ensure a top-notch tasting experience for both you and your guests. Here are a few ways a wine glass can affect the taste of the wine:

1. Proper Aeration: 

Some wines, especially robust, tannin-rich reds like Barbera and cabernet sauvignon, benefit from exposure to air before serving. This aeration process allows the wine to "breathe," oxidising specific compounds to reveal the full depth of its unique flavours. While using a separate decanter is ideal for aeration, you can also achieve this by using a large wine glass that matches the wine variety.

2. Enhanced Aroma and Bouquet: 

A well-designed white or red wine glass allows the wine's enticing aromas to escape, which plays a vital role in the tasting experience. Without these delightful scents and bouquets wafting from the glass, you won't be able to fully appreciate the authentic and fully developed flavours of the wine.

3. Correct Temperature: 

Each wine varietal has an optimal serving temperature. Generally, white wines are best served chilled, between 49 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit, while red wines should be enjoyed at room temperature, between 62 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the glass's stem type and shape can affect the wine's temperature. Holding the glass by the bowl can transfer heat from your hand, potentially muddling or dulling the wine's flavours.

4. Aesthetic Appeal: 

Let's not forget the joy of using elegant wine glasses. Having a selection of two to three types of wine glasses on hand for your home bar or party setup not only adds charm but also ensures you're well-prepared for any wine your friends might bring over.

When you combine aeration, aroma, temperature, and presentation in the right way, you elevate the art of wine tasting.

6 Most Popular Wine Glasses You Should Know

Red Wine Glasses

Taller and with wider bowls, red wine glasses are visually distinctive from white wine glasses. The larger bowl allows more oxygenation of the wine and opens up the flavours. 

  1. Bordeaux Wine Glasses: 

With a comparatively longer stem, Bordeaux glasses are taller than most and have a leaner bowl which allows the wine to travel towards the back of the tongue with every sip. They can also be used for other full-bodied red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. As the generous bowl facilitates increased oxygen interaction, allowing ethanol to evaporate. The wider opening smoothens the wine's taste and accentuates its fruitiness.

  1. Malbec Wine Glasses: 

Slightly shorter and with a narrower bowl, these glasses are ideal for more medium to full-bodied wines like Shiraz or Syrah wines. The smaller mouth emphasises the aromas and allows the drinker to appreciate the full bouquet with every sip while the narrow bowl concentrates the flavours. 

  1. Burgundy / Pinot Noir Wine Glasses: 

These glasses, among the shortest and widest in the realm of red wine glasses, are specifically designed for wines like Burgundy and Pinot Noir. Featuring a shorter stem and a broad bowl, they excel at capturing the robust aromas and channelling intense flavours precisely to the right part of your palate. Their larger surface area also allows for an ample interaction with oxygen, further enhancing the wine-tasting experience.

White Wine Glasses 

In contrast, white wine glasses differ in height and bowl size compared to red wine glasses, bringing the wine closer to your nose to highlight its delicate aromas.

  1. Sauvignon Blanc / Riesling White Wine Glasses: 

With a mid-length to long stem and a slightly tapering, narrow bowl, these glasses feature thinner walls and lower capacity compared to red wine glasses, enhancing the aromas while minimising oxygen contact.

  1. Chardonnay White Wine Glasses: 

Designed for oak-aged Chardonnays and other full-bodied white wines, these glasses feature a large bowl similar to those for Burgundy or Pinot Noir but slightly smaller. They have a shorter stem, creating a substantial surface area that complements the complexities of such wines.

  1. Flute Glasses

The go-to choice for aerated or fizzy wines, flute glasses are tall and narrow to enhance the carbonation and ensure it stay fizzy for longer. They can also be useful for serving champagne.