Sure we all have a glass of wine every now and again, but how do you really enjoy a glass of wine? Wine experts have many theories on how to make wine taste better, but one thing they can all agree on is the type of wine glasses you use make a big difference. Each shape is meant for a specific type of wine, and by pairing the right wine with the right glass, your wine will really shine! First we will start with the parts of the wine glass, then move on to the different types of wine glasses.
Parts of the Wine Glass
All wine glasses are composed of three main parts, how these are shaped greatly affects the taste, and bouquet of your wine.
Bowl – The upper section of a wine glass. This is the most important component of the glass. The bowl shape varies on each glass allowing an enhancement on how the flavor and aromas of the wine are received. We will cover more on the importance of wine glass shapes for each type of wine a little later in this guide.
Stem – The midsection of a wine glass allowing you to handle your wine glass. Wine is to be served at a certain temperature to provide it’s most optimal taste. Typically reds are served near room temperature, while white wines are served slightly chilled. Holding your wine glasses by the stem rather than holding them by the bowl, keeps your wine at the proper temperature longer. Holding your glass by the bowl would alter the temperature of wine at a consistent enough rate that it would ruin the flavor due to the body heat from your hand. The stem also keeps messy fingerprints from getting on the bowl of the glass for the visual appeal and inspection of the wine.
Base – Supports the wine glass when standing upright.
Different Types of Wine Glasses
Red Wine Glasses
Red wine glasses have a shape that can be easily noticed because of it’s wide bowl and shorter stem. The wide bowl shape in these types of wine glasses is essential for swirling, more wine is exposed to the air when swirled which allows essential aromas and flavors to be released. Red wines benefit from more oxygen due to the higher tannin level in it. Red wine glass shapes have been studied and proven that the wide mouth allows you to receive the flavors on certain sensors of the tongue for a better enjoyment of the wine.* This type of wine glass has a shorter stem so if the wine is served too cold the glass can be held at the bowl to get the best temperature of enjoyment. Red wines are typically served at approximately 55 to 63 degrees.
White Wine Glasses
These are typically shaped slimmer than the red wine glass; with the exception of the wider Chardonnay glasses that some vendors have started offering in recent years. The shapes of white wine glasses vary dependent upon which type of white wine you are drinking, but they are also typically much thinner and the stem is usually taller than reds. The reason for this is each type of wine glass has a different shape which hits your tongue palate at a different spot dependent upon the glass, to enhance the flavor and bouquet of the wine. Also popular for white wines in recent years is wine aerating. Using a wine aerator, combined with the proper white wine glass shape will make a huge difference in your wine. White wines are served at a temperature around 43 to 50 degrees so maintaining that temperature is crucial when tasting wine. For more on aerating we suggest viewing the wine aerating guide here.
Champagne Flutes (Sparkling Wine Glass)
Another name for this glass would be the sparkling wine glass. These glasses are much thinner and taller than the average glass. They come in stemless and stemmed, for the stemmed versions, the stem is long like the typical white wine glass shape. The taller and slimmer bowl of the glass is to enhance the carbonation of the Champagne. The longer stems also allows it to be held without altering the temperature of the wine. Finally, it prevents fingerprints from disturbing the amazing view of the bubbly at it’s best. Champagne is usually served chilled at about 46-43 degrees.
Selecting among the different types of wine glasses can be overwhelming, but we hope this beginner guide has at least armed you with the basics. Every wine glass shape has its benefits, choosing which one fits you best is probably the hardest, but also one of the most rewarding parts of wine drinking. Be looking looking out for our more advanced article where we’ll get into the nitty gritty of all the various types of wine glasses soon. Cheers until then!
*Find more about types of wine glasses at http://www.pinot-noir-wines.com/winestemware/