Choosing The Right Wine Glass

Nowadays it seems wine glass manufacturers produce a different wine glass for every type of wine there is. Is this just marketing at work, or does it really make a difference which type of glass you use with a certain wine? The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

There is no doubt that the shape of a wine glass can play a part in how your senses perceive the wine. All good wine glasses are narrower at the rim than they are at the bowl (the widest part of the glass). This is so that the escaping aromas, the bouquet of the wine, are concentrated through a smaller area, making it easier to smell them as you taste. Also, glasses should have a wine enough bowl that you can easily swirl the wine without spilling it.

Tip: When pouring wine for guests, only fill the glass one third full, about the widest part of the glass. Swirling the wine, particularly older wines, releases bouquet and introduces some air into the wine which will help bring out the flavours.

Since the taste buds that register the different tastes are located in different places on our palate, some of the more intricate wine glass styles are designed to direct the wine to the appropriate part of the mouth for tasting that style.

So, do you really need ten to fifteen different wine glasses to be socially acceptable? No, of course not, but there are four basic shapes that are good to have in any serious wine consumer's collection.

Figure 1 shows a great all-purpose white wine glass, with a wider bowl and narrower rim.

Figure 2 shows an all-purpose red wine glass, shorter and wider than the white wine glass to allow better swirling and more surface area air contact, both particularly useful in bringing out the flavours and aromas in well-aged red wines.

Figure 3 shows the style of glass now more commonly used to serve off-dry to sweet wines. The idea is that the slightly flared rim guides the wine to the palate area that detects sweetness, so accentuating the enjoyment of the wine. Particularly good with Piesporter, Liebfraumilch, Riesling, etc.

Figure 4 is a Champagne flute. This is the best style for sparkling wines as the long, narrow body concentrates the bubbles in a small surface area, intensifying the aroma and taste.

Tip: Although restaurants are using them more and more frequently, avoid those trendy cone-shaped wine glasses; it's almost impossible to swirl the wine, and the wide rim is just wrong for appreciating the bouquet. They do make good water glasses however...

1. White Wine Glass

2. Red Wine Glass

3. Sweet Wine Glass

4. Champagne Flute