Nowadays, it seems that if we want to appear to be the height of sophistication, not only do we need to choose good wine, but we also have the option of dazzling our guests with an array of different wine glasses to present it in!
So, is it necessary to fill our shelves with multiple styles and sizes, in the hope that they will not remain there, at the back of the top shelf, while, time and time again, we pull out the old favourites?
Well, there is indeed a wine glass for every occasion, and virtually every wine. You can buy glasses for Syrah/Shiraz, Chardonnay/Chablis, Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, not to mention Champagne/Sparkling wine, Sherry, Port and Dessert wine.
Whichever you choose, all good wine glasses should be shaped according to the wine for which it is designed. They should all be clear glass (coloured glass would not allow you to appreciate the colour of the wine), have a stem, and a bowl which tapers upwards and usually inwards, enabling the aromas to travel upwards towards your mouth and nose.
Typically the bowl of the glass should be big enough to swirl the wine around it. The stem of the glass will allow you to hold it without getting fingerprints all over the bowl, and detracting from the colour and clarity of the wine. Also, if you are not holding the bowl (as you would with a stemless glass), the wine will remain at its correct serving temperature for longer. With stemless glasses there is a danger that your hands will heat up the wine.
A white wine glass is usually similar in style to the red wine glass pictured above, but slightly smaller with a smaller bulb. One of the reasons for this is that white, and rosé wines are usually served at a colder temperature, and the smaller bulb keeps the wine colder for longer. You should still allow some room to swirl the wine, allowing the flavours and aromas to rise to the nose and mouth.
With sweet dessert wines, the alcohol content is generally higher, so you would tend to drink smaller quantities,which is why dessert wine glasses are small. In addition to this, their smaller size also helps to concentrate the rich fruit flavours, and direct them to the back of the mouth.
So, if you want to wow your guests with a glass for every wine, then you will need lots of storage, and a good memory to remember which glass to use for your chosen wine!
In reality this will probably not be practical. So, if you want to manage with the minimum, you just need a long stemmed, large bulb wine glass that you can use for both red and white wine. You might also consider having some champagne flutes on hand for that sparkly occasion!
Whichever glass you use, the most important thing is to enjoy the wine inside it! So I think we should ‘raise a glass’ to that!!