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Winemaking, more formally known as vindication, is the biochemical process of transforming grapes into wine. Without question, the art of winemaking has evolved over the centuries and is still growing.
Sidenote: remember the movie The Big Chill when William Hurt said that line? “I was evolving; I’m still evolving.” It’s a great film that also happens to include A LOT of wine drinking.
But I digress.
What also has evolved when it comes to wine is the glass. The question comes up a lot: Does the type of wine glass matter? Yes, it does matter, but to what degree?
As the art of winemaking is continuously evolving, so is the manufacturing and design of how we drink it. Let’s be honest: the wine will always matter more than the glass, but some good things to know about glassware.
Advancements in wine glasses consider physicality (how the glass feels in your hand), biology (how and when the wine hits the mouth and taste buds), and aesthetics.
By no means do we expect you, our dear readers, to go out and purchase a different glass for every wine. Suffice it to say quality, Universal or Standard wine glass – preferably with a stem is used for wine tasting – will meet all your wine-drinking needs.
However, it is helpful for you to understand the nuances between the different types of wine glasses and if, when, and why they matter. How much time you invest in this is up to you. Our challenge in this brief post is to get you started.
Below we review a few glass variations and how they can positively affect the wine-drinking experience.
If you have a favorite glass, we want to know! Post a pic of your glass and tell us why you love it.
The type of glass you use for red wine matters because reds need oxygen. Red wines are best consumed after they have had a chance to aerate and the best way to do that (beyond decanting) is to pour your favorite red into a glass with a big, broad bowl. This lets the air in and allows those lovely aromas to open.
As we explore different red wines, we begin to understand which ones need more air and which are better served in a slightly smaller bowl — perhaps tapered toward the top, so the rim is smaller, flared, or especially thin.
1. Ravenscroft Crystal Set of 4 Pinot/Noir Glasses
According to the manufacturer, “the perfect wine glass precisely controls bouquet and palate attack and then disappears.” It sounds like a Superhero!
Seriously, who wouldn’t want to taste a delectable Pinot Noir (or other medium-bodied red) in a glass where “the seductively sheer rim provides a whistler-like mouth-feel experience while the tight chimney and deep rounded bowl allows dense fruit-driven lower alcohol wine to concentrate their bouquet and immerse the senses in the most intense experience possible?”
2. Nachtmann Vivendi Bordeaux Glasses, Set of 4
A classic design, this glass is “designed to offer maximum enjoyment of Bordeaux style wines.” The glass is tall with a long stem and sends the wine to the back of the mouth. The Bordeaux glass is not just for Bordeaux but any full-bodied wine.
3. Riedel Sommeliers Burgundy Grand Cru Wine Glass
The Burgundy glass has a large bowl. In this version, the “slightly flared top lip maximizes the fruit flavors by directing a precise flow to the front palate.”
Why do they call it white wine if it’s made from green grapes? We can’t answer that. But we can tell you that most white wines are dry whites – Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio – although Rieslings and other sweet wines have their place and their following.
In general, white wine glasses are taller and thinner than red wine glasses. So even though some are labeled “dry,” white wines are fruitier and more refreshing. Dry white is directed to the tip or middle of the mouth via the glass, sweet wine to the back.
1. Riedel Sommeliers Series Chablis-Chardonnay Glass
According to Reidel, this glass is “specifically shaped to balance the fruit and acidity in white wines.” The Chardonnay glass is also a good option for Chenin Blanc, White Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Pinot Grigio.
2. Port and Dessert Wine Tasting Glasses
Dessert wine glasses are more petite, taller, and even more narrow but not as narrow as the flute (below). We love this tulip-shaped glass that, according to the manufacturer, is designed to “capture and tightly focus all enticing sweet grape smells before delivering them to your nose for ultimate tasting and nosing experience.”
3. Luigi Bormioli Aero Flutes – Sparkling Wine Glasses, Set of 6
Science and aesthetics meet in this lovely flute for any sparkling wine. “The glass is designed with a swirling feature called a helical incision. This facilitates a flowing stream of bubbles. And who doesn’t want their bubbles to last?
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