Choosing the right wine glass may seem confusing, especially if you're new to wine tasting or entertaining. Not to worry; FBC's resident Canadian wine expert, Meaghan Carey, will help you choose the right wine glass for you and for your wine!
If you’ve recently considered purchasing new stemware, you may have left the store feeling overwhelmed, confused and like sticking with drinking beer … from the bottle, sweet and simple.
Let’s be honest, we’ve all drunk wine out of a coffee mug, a tumbler and, during our university/camping/boating/too-lazy-to-wash-dishes days, a red plastic cup.
That wine in that red cup still tasted like wine, good wine even. If wine is still wine in a red plastic cup, why are there so many different types of wine glasses? The simple answer: marketing.
In 1973, Claus Riedel was looking to expand his family’s company, Riedel Glassware, into new markets. To differentiate Riedel in a growing wine market they released the Sommelier series. The initial series of “functional wine glasses” consisted of 10 different shapes that were dedicated for the enjoyment and appreciation of specific wine varietals. According to Riedel: “… the specific shape of the glass would aid a wine drinker in picking up every aroma of the wine.”
Today most wine glass classifications list at least 12 different glass shapes. With all these options out there you wouldn’t be alone in thinking you need a specific wine glass for each type of wine you’re serving at your next dinner party.
If you want the best tasting experience, then certain glass shapes do work better for specific wine varieties. However, like most things when discussing wine, finding the ideal wine glass is ultimately up to your personal taste preferences. The good news is that when starting out or for hosting a party, you really need only two types of glasses: a standard wine glass and a sparkling wine glass.
What To Look For In a Standard Wine Glass
Everyone should invest in a good, standard glass that works for both white and red wines. Good parameters to consider when purchasing are:
- A glass that can hold 20 ounces or more
- A long stem
- A slight inward curve at the top
- Avoid glasses that are coloured or have designs on them
You want a glass that has a large enough bowl to swirl the wine, not necessarily to fill with 20 ounces of wine!
A clear glass allows you to see the colour of the wine.
The longer stem makes it easier to hold and ensures your hand doesn’t have to touch the bowl of the glass, which warms the wine.
The curved top of the glass focuses the aromas, allowing oxygen to mix with the wine, expanding the aromas without letting them escape. This type of glass will generally be classified as a red wine Burgundy glass.
Sparkling Wine Glasses
Sparkling wine glasses generally hold 6.5 ounces and, even if you don’t start each Sunday with a mimosa, they have a place in your stemware cupboard. The flute-shaped glass is narrow and tall to channel the bubbles in a continuous stream. If you fancy yourself a sparkling wine connoisseur, consider a tulip-shaped glass with a narrowing at the rim to better trap the aromas and bubbles. If you like a more vintage feel, or drink more cocktails, a coupe may be the best sparkling wine glass for you. It does allow for the bubbles to dissipate quickly, so you'll have to drink your fizz quickly!
The Difference Between a Red and White Wine Glass
If you decide you’re enjoying and drinking more wine, then expanding your stemware cupboard to dedicated red and white glasses would be a good next step. Essentially the difference between white and red wine glasses is the size of the bowl. White wines are typically served in smaller bowled glasses than red wines.
Serving white wines in smaller bowled glasses preserves the delicate floral aromas and maintains the cooler temperature of the wine.
Red wines are served in larger bowled glasses to allow for the enjoyment of the aromas, while being farther from nose to let the ethanol evaporate. Plus, the wider opening of the glass allows for more oxygen to interact with the wine, making it taste smoother.
When it comes to selecting a manufacturer, Riedel, Spiegalau, and Schott Zwiesel are some of the most trusted and used by sommeliers.
Stem or No Stem?
No matter the glass you choose to buy, selecting a glass with a stem is ideal. Stemless wine glasses are great for a Wednesday night Netflix session, but a wine glass with a stem is essential for tasting and for serving wine at a dinner party. Plus it’s just more fun and festive to be able to clink glasses for a cheers!
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The Wine Glass Conundrum was written by Meaghan Carey. Meaghan shares her musings on life as she attempts to cook good food for family and friends from her small kitchen, on her blog Un Assaggio of Food, Wine, and Marriage. Raised in Cape Breton, Meaghan returns home as much as possible and loves to welcome friends to this picturesque corner of Canada each summer. Connect with Meaghan on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.