Is it just good etiquette to use fine glasses for fine wine or does good wine taste better out of good wine glasses? Yes and Yes. Do you need special wine glasses if you are drinking wine as refreshment with your meal? No.
When it comes to proper stemware for wine, you can get as complex as you wish. Some experts will literally recommend dozens of differing wine glasses, each peaked to a specific type of wine and drinking experience. We at Top 10 Wine Coolers go for a simpler approach: just three things –
- Color – go for clear glass – you can see the color of your wine clearly.
- Size – go a big wine glass for red or white wine – you want to swirl the wine without spilling it.
- Shape – your basic choices are a round bowl or an elongated and narrower bowl. The table below focuses on the basic types of wine glasses that you may want for your collection and why each works well for its intended purpose.
Wine glasses are meant to enhance the flavor and bouquet of different types of wines. Each of these different types of wine glasses are meant to emphasize particular aspects of particular wines. Wine glasses are intended to work with the wines to aid in aeration, to focus and develop bouquet, and also to direct the wine being consumed to the appropriate part of the drinker’s palate to emphasize or deemphasize targeted tastes (because different areas of our palate are sensitive to specific flavors).
Wine Glasses for Red Wines: Four fundamental kinds of red wines are those of the Bordeaux style, Pinot Noir, the Burgundy style, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Bordeaux style wines benefit from glasses that have a generous bowl to aid in oxidation and an elongated shape to focus the bouquet.
- Pinot Noirs typically have a fruity flavor and benefit from a glass design somewhat similar to a Bordeaux glass design that has a big bowl to release the bouquet with a small mouth to concentrate that bouquet for the drinker. Pinot Noirs are all about their fruit forward style, so you want a glass that emphasizes that attribute.
- Burgundy style wines are best served in tapered glasses that swell in the middle, allowing the bouquet to develop fully and present that bouquet to the nose of the wine connoisseur.
- Cabernet Sauvignon glasses are typically somewhat taller with a smaller bowl and slightly flared sides. These glasses are designed to direct the wine to the center of the palate to moderate the taste of tannins in the wine.
Wine Glasses for White Wines: There are two major types of white wine glasses:
- The “standard” white wine glass has a tall stem and a large bowl at the bottom that closes a slightly smaller opening, and the white Chardonnay glass typically has a wide and open bowl.
- Conventionally, tasters opt for smaller bowled glasses, with longer stems, for white wines to minimize the warming of the wine while being consumed (as opposed to red wines, where some warming can benefit the taste of the wine.
Wine Glasses for sparkling wines: Typically sparkling wines are consumed from flutes (glasses of course, not musical instruments) or tulip glasses.
- Flutes are smaller glasses that are tall and narrow to preserve the bubbles in the “bubbly” for as long as possible.
- The tulip glass is often considered the gold standard for tasting Champagne and other sparkling wines, such as prosecco. The tulip glass is elegantly shaped and designed to be held by the stem to prevent warming your sparkling wine. The tulip glass is also big enough and deep enough to accentuate the delicate bubbles.
Stemless wine glasses are an emerging trend because they are more stable, not so fragile, and are easy to clean and put in a dishwasher. There are both stemless red wine glasses and stemless white wine glasses currently on the market.
For the cynics among us, some believe the proliferation of wine glass types has less to do with the taste of wine than the desire by wineglass designers and manufacturers to sell more wineglasses. There has been scientific research to indicate that the palate perceives the same tastes no matter where the wine is directed. There has also been some effort to design “generic” red and white wine glasses so that you need only two types of glasses, and some expert wine tastings have concluded that sparkling wines taste spectacular from more conventional wineglasses.
Maybe the moonshiners had it right all along—all beverages taste best when consumed from a mason jar.