Knowing how to identify wine glass shapes (also called stemware) is a useful skill.
Choices were certainly simpler 40 years ago and the shapes were obvious: aperitif, reds, champagne and liqueur. As wine has grown in popularity over the years, so have the styles and choices for glasses.
Huckleberry’s Natural Market wine specialist Lou Anne Moxcey says most people need a clear glass big enough to hold 4 to 5 ounces with enough room to swirl the wine.
“There is no wrong wine glass,” she explains. “You can enhance your wine experience in different ways with glasses.”
Stemware manufacturers matched the level of sophistication of wine with a unique size and shape for almost every variation. With the help of wine producers they tailored the shape, size and color of the glass to give the consumer the best possible tasting experience. Some shapes are still obvious; larger glasses for dinner wines, small for an aperitif and taller, narrow glasses for champagne to enhance the bubbles and concentrate the aromas of lighter white wines.
Most wine drinkers agree: The correct glass enhances the experience of the beverage. Taste and smell (or bouquet) is affected by the visual aspect. More importantly the correct shape changes the way your taste buds come into contact with the wine and the way aromas are captured within the glass
Not everyone has a champagne budget and unlimited cabinet space to accommodate the many sizes available in stemware. Producers such as Riedel developed an array of high-end to medium-priced glasses that can meet almost all of the average wine drinker’s need. Those who wish to limit their stemware to a single size can find inexpensive designs that are still attractive and do the job.
According to Moxcey, the stemless glass was developed by a manufacturer for a client who wanted a glass that wouldn’t tip on his boat. But stemless glasses have their drawbacks.
“They do tend to show fingerprints and when held, over time, can heat up the wine,” she explains.
When a different wine accompanies each course at a meal, separate glasses should be arranged in the order they are to be used, right to left. Wine is traditionally poured from the right. A full water glass keeps the nondrinkers busy and helps cleanse the wine-drinker’s palate between courses.
Glasses should be filled one third to one half full. Room at the top of the glass captures the bouquet as it rises from the swirled wine, and allows the glass to be angled to enjoy the color of the wine.
For those who want to keep it simple, Wine Spectator columnist James Laube recommends two basic styles from Reidel and Spiegelau; Vinum Bordeaux and Vinum Chardonnay/Pinot Noir.
Moxcey concludes, “In my experience you can have a fine wine in a mediocre glass and it is still a fine wine. A better glass enhances the experience. It’s part of the appreciation of wine.”
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