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wine glasses
different types of wine
quality wine
shapes and sizes
Selecting The Correct Wine Glass For Any Occaison
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Selecting the Correct Wine Glass for Any Occaison

Wine glasses these days come in a number of shapes and sizes. Selecting the correct wine glass, whether for a private party, a large event or for yourself, is something you may want to learn about.

But before we get into talking about the different types of wine glasses and when you use them, let’s first talk about what wine glasses are made from and which type might be the best for you.

Most often we see wine glasses made of glass, because they tend to be more affordable than their more preferred counterparts. We certainly have seen wine drunk in plastic cups, but we won’t even go there; oh yes, and the occasional paper cup, if you’re desperate. You would be better off hoisting the bottle than either of these alternatives.

High quality wine glasses are generally made of lead crystal. The advantages of lead crystal are primarily in its look and feel. They do tend to have a higher index of refraction, thus changing the angle of light passing through the material and the winel. At the microscopic level lead crystal is actually rougher than glass. This roughness allows the wine to breathe more efficiently when swirled in the bowl. Lead crystal is also heavier.

Wine glasses, whether lead crystal or glass, should be clear so the true color of the wine can be appreciated. An exception to this rule is the hock glass.

We need to discuss the various shapes of wine glasses, as well. There is no scientific proof that the shape of a wine glass has any impact on the taste of the wine. However, it is believed by many that the shape of the glass is important, as it concentrates the flavor and bouquet and emphasizes the varying differences in varietal’s characteristics. Most often, the opening of the glass is never wider than the widest part of the bowl. So when you swirl, the wine stays in the glass.

The majority of wine glasses have stems, although “stemless” glasses are available on the market. The idea behind the development of stemmed wine glasses has to do with keeping the warmth of your hand away from the bowl where the wine sits, thus not interfering with the wines temperature. Stem lengths vary, as does their thickness. Long stems look more elegant, but can break easier, if the stem is too thin. Shorter stems are good for everyday use, as are the “stemless” glasses.

Wine glasses are typically divided into 3 types; red wine glasses, white wine glasses and champagne flutes. There are other varieties for specialty wines, but we’ll talk about those another time.

Red wine glasses have a rounder, wider bowl, this tends to increase the rate of oxidation. As oxygen from the air chemically reacts with the wine, flavor and aroma are released and are altered slightly. The oxidation process with red wines is considered more compatible, as the complex flavors of the wine are said to be smoothed, making the wine taste more appealing.

Not all red wine glasses look a like. There are various styles depending on the red varietal you’re drinking. Bordeaux glasses are tall with a broad bowl. They are designed for full bodied wines, like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, as it directs these wines to the back of your mouth. On the other hand, Burgundy glasses are broader than the Bordeaux glasses. The bigger bowl is designed to accumulate aromas of more delicate reds like the Pinot Noir. This style of glass directs the wine to the tip of your tongue.

White wine glasses vary in shape and sizes tremendously; from the tapered Champagne flute, to the shallow and wide glasses used to drink Chardonnay. The wide variety of shapes and sizes are used to accentuate the unique characteristics of the varying styles of white wine. Wide mouth white wine glasses provide a similar functionality as red wine glasses do. They promote rapid oxidation, which can alter the taste and experience.

The white wines that are best served slightly oxidized are generally the full flavored varietals, like oaked Chardonnay. For lighter, fresher whites, oxidation is of less importance and desirability. Oxidation for lighter wines masks the delicate nuances. To preserve the crispness and clean flavor of these whites requires a glass with a much smaller mouth.

In the case of Champagne or Asti, an even smaller mouth is used to keep the wine sparkling longer in the glass. These glasses are characterized by having a long stem attached to a narrow bowl. Again, the long stem is so your hand does not warm the wine.

We could go into much more detail about wine glasses for port, desert wines, sherry and other specialty wines, but we will do that in another article. It is now time to crack open your favorite red or white varietal or blend, pour it in closest glass to you and enjoy. You can impress someone another day. Cheers


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