Glassware

Materials

Wine glasses made of fused or cut glass will often interfere with the flavor of the wine, as well as creating a rough, thick lip, from which it is not as pleasurable to drink. Blown glass results in a better vessel, with a thinner lip, and is usually acceptable for casual wine drinkers. High quality wine glasses are often made of lead crystal, the advantage is primarily that the surface area to the wine is much larger due to uneven crystalline structure.  This actually cuts in, helping to open the wine over time.  Wine glasses are generally not colored or frosted as this would impede the appreciation of its color and rim variation.

 

Shape

The shape of the glass is also very important, as it concentrates the flavor and aroma to emphasize the varietal characteristics. The shape of the glass also directs the wine itself into the best area of the mouth for the varietal. Al benefit is derived from drinking a given varietal from its specially designed glass, but to go so far as to say it improves the taste of the wine would be to go too far. It is more our perception of the wine that changes.

The stem of a glass is an important feature as it provides a way to hold the glass without warming the wine from body heat. It also prevents fingerprints from smearing the glass (clarity), and makes the glass easier to swirl.

 

Red Wine

Glasses for red wine are characterized by their rounder, wider bowl, which gives the wine a chance to breathe. Since most reds are meant to be consumed between 55-70 degrees F, the wider bowl also allows the wine to cool more quickly after hand contact has warmed it. Red wine glasses can have particular styles of their own, such as:

  • Bordeaux glass: Tall with a wide bowl, and is designed for full bodied red wines like Cabernet and Merlot or Blends of these, as it directs wine to the back of the mouth, lessening the percieved tannins.  The tall bowl allows for the growth of the nose (esters) for enjoyment.
  • Burgundy glass: Larger yet possibly shorter than the Bordeaux glass, it has a larger bowl to accumulate aromas of more delicate red wines such as Pinot Noir. This style of glass directs wine to the tip of the tongue as it has less of the inward curved rim.  In fact, it is often that an older burgundian styled Pinot Noir (accentuating the acidity) would benefit from an outwardly curved rim.

 

White Wine

White wine glasses are generally narrower, with somewhat straight or tulip-shaped sides. The narrowness of the white wine glass allows the chilled wine to retain its temperature because the reduced surface area of the glass (in comparison to red wine glasses) means less air circulating around the glass and warming the wine. The smaller bowl of the glass also means less contact between the hand and the glass. This is not true for the largest, oldest whites of the world as seen below in diagrams; they are few enough, deserve special attention and a Pinot glass works well in these instances.

 

Champagne

Champagne flutes are characterized by a long stem with a tall, narrow bowl on top.  The glass is designed to be held by the stem to help prevent the heat from the hand from warming the champagne. The bowl itself is designed in a manner to help retain the signature carbonation.