You’re probably well aware that there are many different types of wine glasses out there. You may even know a bit about different types of wine glasses & their use for different types of wine. But do different wine glasses make wine taste better? Will your sparkling wine taste entirely different when served in a tall, slender flute than in a large bulb goblet? According to the experts, the answer is yes.
Glasses designed to hold red wine are notated by their height and generous bowl size. Overall, they’re simply larger than a white wine glass. This is not because they’re meant to hold a larger serving. Red wines simply do better with a bit of extra space to breathe. The wider bowl also makes it easier for the consumer to experience the bouquet of the wine. White wine glasses are generally shorter in stature and have a narrower bulb. Then, of course, there is the tall, thin flute that is used for champagnes and other sparkling wines.
Red Wine Glasses
Red wine glasses are generally broken down into four sub categories. They are:
Cabernet/Bordeaux, Merlot- This is the standard issue red wine glass. It is tall, features a large bowl, and has a slight taper to the rim.
Shiraz- The tallest of the red glasses, this one has a distinct taper to the rim, giving the midsection a flared appearance.
Pinot/Burgundy- These glasses don’t have as much height as their cousins, but are notable for their wide bowl. The overall effect is a shallow bowl with a highlighted taper to the rim.
Port- These glasses are dainty and child-sized. Since port is sweet and consumed in small portions, it makes sense that the stem is short, the glass thick, and the bowl uniform in flare.
White Wine Glasses
White wine glasses are commonly broken into three distinct shapes. They include:
Chardonnay- The standard issue glass for white wines, the Chardonnay glass looks like a little sister to the Cabernet glass. It has a tall bowl with a slight taper to the rim, but a shorter stem and overall minimized size in comparison to the Cabernet glass.
Sauvignon Blanc/ Pinot Grigio- Designed to highlight the acidity to these varietals, these glasses have a shorter stem and smaller bowl. The rim features a more dramatic taper.
White Burgundy- The litter sister to the Red Burgundy glass, this short stemmed white glass is distinctive for her wide bowl.
Finally, there is the champagne flute. These glasses almost always look uniform in their design. They are tall and thin so as to expose as small a surface area as possible to the air. This keeps the beverage cool and helps the carbonation to last longer. The flute also highlights the complexity of a sparkling wine’s bouquet.
While it is possible to enjoy wine from any shape of glass, enthusiasts rave about glass shape almost as much as about vintage years. Why? Because different wines taste differently. Some are tannic, while others are sweet or acidic. Ideally, a glass is chosen that captures the unique essence of each wine, allowing it to funnel to the appropriate part of your mouth for maximum enjoyment.
Did you know that more than shape alone goes into creating an ideal wine glass? Turns out the flavor of the wine can be greatly impacted by the composition of the wine glass as well. While it may seem obvious that a plastic glass isn’t preferable to one made of actual glass, turns out that crystal, leaded crystal, and even acrylic blends have their strengths and weaknesses, too.
While unalloyed crystal offers the purest of wine experiences, it’s also very easily broken. For this reason, many wine makers have moved to crystal blends, containing elements like magnesium or titanium, to increase resilience. Another option is leaded crystal, which contains invisible metal bumps in the glass itself. These bumps can help aerate the wine as it swirls in your glass, and are often sought out by wine enthusiasts. Acrylics offer a great alternative for everyday use, but due to their composition, will always have thicker rims.
Finally, consider the stem. Stemless wine glasses are all the rage in modern glassware these days, but they’re not ideal for every wine. The idea is that, when the steam is missing, the ambient heat of the hand can impact the temperature of the wine inside of the bulb. Since white wines are meant to be consumed chilled, as opposed to room temperature, you wouldn’t want to consume white wines from a stemless glass.