Drinking wine is both communal and personal. The act of drinking wine with friends and family elicits memories of the good times past and inspires planning for future gatherings. It’s a well-deserved treat after a long day or the perfect libation for a celebration.
The wine you choose for any of the above reasons depends on your taste. Here, “taste” can take on a multitude of definitions. I like red wines and white wines (not surprising since I’m writing a blog on the subject). Many of my red-wine drinking friends rarely cross over to white wines and vice versa.
Taste can also reflect the design of the glass in terms of aesthetics and how the wine glass tastes on your tongue. When talking about wine glasses, the taste can be scientific and subjective.
Your wine journey should include understanding what you like in a wine (and what you don’t). Understanding those differences will help you further your journey into choosing the best wine glass for your taste. The right wine glass will not only suit your style, but it will also help bring out the best in the wine you’re enjoying.
How Taste Buds Experience Wine
Let’s get the science lesson out of the way first. There’s a ton of science that goes into wine, but we’ll keep it short.
A critical part of the design of a wine glass is how the wine travels to and into your mouth through the glass. So while we won’t use this space to do a deep dive into the intricacies of our palates, we can begin to explain how to choose the wine glass for your wine taste, be it red, white, sweet, dry, or any combination.
The tongue helps and tastes- no surprises there. The super small bumps on the surface (papillae) give the tongue its texture, and that’s where our taste buds live—thousands and thousands of them. The taste buds are nerve-like cells that connect with the brain.
There are four familiar tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, and salty.
Wine Glass Shape
Wine glass design is surprisingly complicated when it comes to the taste of the wine. However, the winemaker takes great care in creating the product, and the glass choice can elevate the experience. For example, the height of the wine glass, the rim, and the size and shape of the bowl work together to direct the wine to some regions of the tongue to elevate the sweetness, downplay any acidity or bitterness, etc.
Next time you pop a Riesling or other sweet wine, use a tall glass with a tapered bowl, and you’ll see that it almost forces you to roll your tongue. In this way, the wine hits an area of the tongue that appreciates sweetness without overwhelming. Try the exact wine in a red wine glass with a large bowl and broad rim, and it doesn’t have the same effect as the wine is directed to a different part of the mouth and tongue.
Wine Glass Bowl Size
Taking the bowl discussion above a bit further, the size and shape of the bowl of the glass are essential. Are you choosing the right glass for your red wines? Red wine is best served in a glass that lets air in – so big and broad. White wine does not need as much air to fully develop once out of the bottle, so taller and smaller bowls are suggested.
Also, pay particular attention to how the glass tapers at the top. If you equally enjoy red and white wines, and cupboard space is limited, go for the “Universal” or “Standard” wine glass. These can be stemmed or stemless. For more on the subject, go to “Does a wine glass affect taste” or “Which wine goes in which glass.”
Wine Glass Preference
The stem vs. stemless reference takes us to personal taste. Stemless glasses have exploded in the glass market of late. They are durable and do not get knocked over and break as easily. They fit in the dishwasher easily and can be used for wine and anything else.
Keep in mind stemless wine glasses will become warmed by your hands as you hold them. This isn’t ideal for chilled white wine in the summertime. Consider purchasing double-walled tumbler-style glasses if you wish to keep your drink cold. Another benefit to double-walled glasses is that they won’t sweat as much.
On the other hand, if you’re getting cozy around a campfire in the fall, a stemless wine glass could be perfect for enjoying a glass of red wine. Many campers and outdoor-goers prefer stemless wine glasses over stemmed. It makes sense- their compact design takes up less space, which is vital when traveling. Plus, they sit more stable on rocks, stumps, camp tables, and chairs. You can even opt for plastic versions if you still think glass is too delicate for your outdoor adventures.
Where do you take your stemless wine glasses? Post your pics in the comments!
Preference also leads to design. The glass you choose for your taste should reflect your style. If you love wine, love your glass. Wine glass designs run the gamut from classic to contemporary.
They can be crystal classics or modern conversation starters. They can reflect your penchant for color, whimsy, and more.
No matter what glass you choose for your taste – and sometimes it is my favorite jelly jar – enjoy the experience. Wine is a delight which is why you should delight yourself with the glass of your choice.
Cheers and happy choosing!