Wine glasses come in all shapes and sizes, but have you ever wondered why? While there’s plenty of debate over to what degree this is true, it's contended by many that the shape of the glass alters the wine tasting experience.
In support of this theory, let’s start with the basic anatomy of a wine glass. The foot is the base of the wine glass and gives the glass its stability. The stem is the thin, vertical portion of a wine glass. The thickness of the stem is not important. It is designed to make sure the drinker’s hand does not warm the wine or obscure the view of the wine with fingers or fingerprints. Although stemless wineglasses have become trendy, serious wine drinkers deem this undesirable. Finally, there is the bowl of the wineglass, the most important and varied element of a wine glass that holds the wine itself.
Almost all good wine glasses have a “tulip” shape. This means that the glass is wider towards the bottom and tapered near the top. The tulip shape allows the wine to be swirled without spilling and also traps the aromas inside the glass where they are better directed toward the nose.
Red wine: A red wine glass is the fullest and roundest of the wine glass categories. This increases the surface area of the wine, allowing air to open the wine to open and reveal the complex aromas and flavors. Experienced wine drinkers may get more particular – for example, using a taller, narrower glass for heavier red wines in order to direct the wine to the back of the mouth while using a shorter, wider glass for light wines in order to direct the wine to the tip of the tongue.
White wine: White wine glasses are smaller, narrower and more upright. This allows the aromas to be released, but minimizes the surface area in order to maintain a cooler temperature. Just like with red wine, a taller glass is sometimes used for fuller, more mature wines and a shorter glass used for younger, crisper wines.
Sparkling wine: A sparkling wine glass, or flute, is narrow and upright in order to maintain the carbonation and concentrate the bubbles at the surface of the wine. As an alternative there is the bowl-shaped coupe. The coupe emerged in the 1930s when Champagnes were much sweeter, but have largely fallen out of favor. They are sometimes used in celebratory situations when less carbonation may be desirable or for use in champagne towers.
Can you taste the difference?
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