Of course, you can drink wine from absolutely any vessel you see fit, and if you’re not particularly fussed on the kind of wine you’re drinking (and how much of it), then it really doesn’t matter.
However, if you’re looking to really savour your wine, then your choice of glass really does make all the difference. And there’s actually quite a bit of science to back up these claims.
Why is the Right Wine Glass Important?
Using the correct glass improves the aroma, taste and texture of the wine.
The importance of glass shape was made into a study, which was undertaken by a Japanese medical group who used a specialised camera which measured the ethanol vapours in different glass shapes.
But, why do vapours matter? Well, they transport the aromatic compounds into your nose, and these aromatic compounds are the very thing that produces the complexity of flavour in the wine.
Why Are There So Many Different Wine Glasses?
Of the many different kinds of glasses available, there are some shapes that are much better for enjoying certain types of wines than others.
It doesn’t matter whether the glass is stemmed or stemless, it’s more about the shape of the bowl, how the aromas collect and how the wine channels into your mouth as you tip the glass.
White Wine Glasses
White wines are usually served in glasses with smaller bowls, and this is because they:
- Preserve floral aromas
- Maintain cooler temperatures
- Express the sharpness within the wine
- Deliver the aromas due to proximity to the nose
However, generally speaking, fuller-bodied whites like Chardonnay, White Rioja and Viognier are well suited to a larger bowl, as in the above image.
The larger bowler further highlights the creamy texture due to the wider mouth of the glass.
Red Wine Glasses
The choice of a red wine glass has a lot to do with how the bitterness and spice are dialled back in order to deliver a smoother wine.
After a bit of experience tasting wine from different glasses, you’ll begin to notice that red wine tends to come smoother from a glass with a wider opening. This is because the distance to the liquid affects the aromas that reach your nose.
This larger glass shape is much better with bigger, bolder wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and, obviously, as the name suggests Bordeaux blends.
This is because the glass:
- Delivers more natural aromas, when compared to the burn of ethanol
- Has a larger surface area, which allows the ethanol to evaporate
- The wider opening creates a smoother taste.
A fantastic glass for medium to fuller wines, with spicy tones and high alcohol content.
Spice is pulled back slightly as the flavours hit your palette at a steadier pace from the smaller opening. Wines like Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah are perfect for a glass like this.
Aroma Collector Glass
Aroma collectors are perfect for more delicate, lighter reds with subtle fruit aromas. The larger, rounded bowl collects the aromas. Pinot Noir, Gamay and even Nebbiolo are fantastic wines for this kind of glass.
Speciality Wine Glasses
You may require a speciality wine glass depending on what you like or what event you may be catering for.
Speciality glasses may include port or sparkling wine glasses.
A few glass manufacturers offer something known as the ‘universal glass.’
This is a good option for the enthusiast who doesn’t have the money or space to invest in several different wine glass shapes.
If you’re not entirely convinced that your choice of glass to makes a difference, then why not try out a glass testing?
Serving one glass of wine in a standard water glass, and then another in a wine glass will certainly give you an idea of what a difference it can really make. The aromas change dramatically, and the experience of drinking the wine will change drastically.