Which Wine Glass?

Mandy Jenkins

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.
 Red Wine Glass
Here we have the classic red wine glass, which has a long stem and large bowl, tapering inwards towards the rim.  When pouring your wine, it is important not to overfill the glass.  Normally, it should be filled to about a third, as the wine needs room to be swirled. The swirling of the wine allows it to come into contact with more air, helping to lift the flavours and aromas up through the glass. A large glass is good for red wine, as it allows the wine to have more of its surface area in contact with the air, this works especially well for full-bodied reds with a high tannin level, as the oxygen in the air helps to soften the tannins.
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.
 Sparkling wine flute
Sparkling wines, such as Champagne, Prosecco and Cava should be enjoyed from a tall sided glass, to allow the bubbles to travel through more of the wine, picking up its aromas and flavours on the way. The champagne flute is, therefore, perfect for sparkling wines. You should fill a flute almost to the top, because sparkling wines are not swirled in the same way as non-sparkling, in order to keep the bubbles intact for as long as possible. Preferably, you should also avoid serving champagne or sparkling wine in a coupe/saucer style glass, as the bubbles have a shorter distance to travel to the surface, and so, do not of pick up the flavours and aromas in the same way, neither do they last as long due to the larger surface area.
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!!

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