My wife is my greatest inspiration. This week I was sitting at my desk, staring at a blank computer screen, wondering if I should check my Facebook again. To be honest, I was suffering from a wee bit of writer’s block. When, my lovely wife walks in with a bottle of her new favorite, Pasek Cellars Arabica. A fortified, brandy-like concoction that is infused with coffee beans and vanilla. The wine version of Kahlua.
Her question was, “what glass do I put this in”. I quipped “the big plastic one under the sink”, meaning the garbage can. After a brief evil-eye encounter she said “you should write an article on what glass to use with different wines”. So…Here’s the article.
For the most part there are about 50,000 different types of wine glasses. (I might be exaggerating, but only by a hundred or so.) But, for the most part there are really only about four basic glass sizes that a wine drinker should consider. We’ll focus on those. If you don’t like my suggestions go buy one of the other 49,997 designs. You’ll make someone in the glass industry happy.
First, let’s talk sparkling wine. For sparkling the best design is what is called a “flute”. Flutes are a long-stemmed design, with the entire design being very straight and tall. The curvature of the bowl can be described as slender. A flute is most commonly used for this type of wine because the straight walled design holds the bubbles in the glass longer, and allows them to pop and release the esters in the wine right under your nose.
The second basic glass design is a Sherry or Aperitif glass. This is a small glass. You’d never see this one in the Let’er Buck Room. It is only a few inches tall, with a short and round bowl. Wines that you would serve in an aperitif are brandy, port, and most other fortified wines other than Night Train. (Night Train is served straight from the bottle in a paper sack.)
White wines should be served in a “white wine” glass. This is the most common wine glass on the market, and one that you can pick up anywhere from the dollar store to Neiman Marcus. This glass has a stem of reasonable length and a bowl that is somewhat round, but not too audacious. White wines release their phenols or esters more easily than red wines do, thus the glass doesn’t have to have a wide surface area for the wine to reach the air.
As a general rule of thumb, the more phenols you get from a wine, the better your experience. As much as 98% of your wine tasting experience is actually in the nose. That is why you swirl and sniff your wine before chugging.
Last, the Bordeaux glass is the recommended design for red wines. This glass has the same basic design as a white wine glass, with a much larger and pronounced bowl for allowing the wine to decant in the glass. It will allow more of the wine surface to come in contact with the air, and release the phenols.
If you want to research this more I suggest going to www.riedel.com . Their website has a complete history and explanation of what glass is best. Beware! They are also the guys who have developed the thousands of different designs that the industry is trying to sell you.