The kind of glass you choose to drink wine with has a surprising amount of impact on how the wine tastes. In fact the right glass might be the single most important factor in enjoying a wine fully.
A well designed glass creates what is known as a chimney so that the aroma of the wine is concentrated and wafts up towards the nose. As more than 90% of taste is smell a glass that can optimize the bouquet is worth using. The only way to realize this is by placing two glasses side by side with the same wine. The difference will be immediately apparent and once you try the right glass it’s difficult to go back.
The best glasses are made by the Riedel company which is based in Germany. They have created a different glass for nearly every varietal. This seems almost crazy till you try them and realize how well they work. Of course having a glass for every grape is not really realistic but many of their glasses work equally well for different wines.
The bordeaux glass does well for most red wines as does the burgundy glass. Likely different people after some experimentation will find a glass that serves them well for general use. Riedel has several different lines starting at around twenty dollars and ending somewhere above a hundred dollars per glass. The one downside to Riedel is that they break easily but with a little caution a glass can last for many years.
Some other brands that come close to Riedel quality and are usually cheaper are Schott- Zwiesel and Spieglau. Look out for sales and stock up, especially if you do a lot of entertaining. Broken glasses are an unfortunate reality when consuming wine.
When drinking Champagne or any sparkling wine it’s absolutely imperative to use flute shaped glasses. The long tall shape allows the bubbles to travel upwards. Any other shape such as the shallow coupes that are still used will cause the wine to go flat prematurely.
Good wine glasses require special care. Hand washing is generally recommended to avoid breakage as most glasses are a composite of crystal and glass. Using a fragrance free soap is also a good idea. Seventh Generation makes a great soap that leaves no residue or smell after rinsing. Why spend money on a wine only to have it be muted by the taste of soap? Many of the big commercial soap brands leave a vague soapy taste that once you tried the fragrance free soap becomes hard to ignore.
If you must use a dishwasher there is a device called the Crystal Safe Dishwasher Rack that clamps the glass down and presumably insures against breakage. Another good tool for drying the glass and preventing spotting is a wooden rack that hangs the glass upside down leaving the water to drip off. These can be seen in use in most bars and restaurants.
A good wine glass like a solid cocktail glass will improve the overall experience of drinking. Glassware is not something to buy based on price. If you are willing to spend fifteen dollars and up on glasses from the above mentioned makers you’ll be guaranteed a better overall wine experience. Unfortunately many restaurants are unwilling to invest in good glassware and there is nothing more frustrating than buying a wine at a typical enormous restaurant markup only to find yourself drinking out of a glass better suited to water. By buying smart and selectively one can avoid this pitfall at home.
One thought on “Wine: The Importance of Glassware”
I am new to drinking since my parents never drank. I appreciate your explanations as to why there are so many different types of glassware. I like your point that hand washing is usually best.