Some look fancier than others, but wine glasses serve a very important purpose. Keep reading and discover why you should care about different types of wine glasses.
While we’ve all enjoyed wine from a variety of glasses, there’s something extra special about a beautiful wine glass. From delicate flutes to broad Burgundy glasses, there’s a surprisingly large selection of glasses to choose from.
Now, don’t get us wrong. We’re not here to shame anyone for their wine glass choices, even if they prefer to sip wine from (gasp!) a jar. What we do want, however, is to provide opportunities to enhance your wine experiences. This week, that means taking a dip into the wide world of wine glasses.
Believe it or not, wine glasses do more than just make you look fancy. The flavor and aroma compounds in wine are sensitive. So sensitive, in fact, that even the glass you’re sipping from can influence them. In the end, we want you to choose whichever glass makes you happiest. But if you’re interested in creating the ultimate wine tasting experience, here are a few reasons you should care about the different types of wine glasses.
Why Are Wine Glasses Important?
Like we said, wine is full of sensitive compounds. If you’ve checked out our Decanting Wine blog, you’re probably already aware of this. However, we’ll cut right to the chase and tell you that oxygen and temperature play a BIG role in the way both wine flavor and aroma are expressed.
Oxygen is a pivotal part of the winemaking process. Too much and important compounds can be lost, but too little and certain compounds won’t ever form. It’s particularly important during the aging process, so throughout history wine bottles have evolved to take advantage of this. Even after you bring a wine bottle home, however, oxygen is still important.
For certain wines, it’s important to “let them breathe” for a bit before drinking. Basically, that means you need to wait a bit so certain phenolic compounds can become oxygenated and fully express their aroma and flavor. If you let wine sit too long, however, those same compounds can be completely lost and the flavor will be flat.
Temperature also plays a big role, which is why there’s so much debate around chilling wine. If you want all the details, check out To Chill, Or Not To Chill Your Wine. The short version? Each type of wine has a unique composition. Some have more acidity, tannins, sugar content, and some are more alcoholic than others. Depending on the makeup of a particular wine, the temperature it’s served may subdue or highlight different aspects.
And do you know what has a surprisingly large impact on both the oxygenation and temperature of your wine? That’s right. Your wine glass. We won’t fault you for drinking wine from your favorite set of glasses you got on vacation, but you should play around with different styles and see how it influences the overall experience!
Anatomy of a Wine Glass
Traditionally, a wine glass has three parts: the bowl, the stem, and the foot. Those stemless wine glasses may look modern and chic, but there’s something to be said for classic wine glasses.
If you’re used to holding your glass by the bowl, it can feel precarious to hold it by the dainty stem. However, this is considered the “proper” way to hold a wine glass because it stops the heat from your hand from changing the temperature of the wine. This is important for wines that are best served chilled.
The shape of the bowl is also very important. Think about the different sizes of wine glasses you’ve seen. Some have large, wide bowls while others have small, narrow bowls. While you may think this is purely an aesthetic choice, it actually influences how much oxygen gets to the wine. Wider bowls create more wine surface area. That means more wine is exposed to oxygen. Conversely, narrower bowls don’t allow as much oxygenation.
In addition, the shape of the bowl can impact wine aroma. As compounds in wine become oxygenated, they vaporize. That makes it sound like they disappear, but we literally mean they turn into vapor. Depending on the shape of the bowl, that vapor may become denser, collect in different parts of the bowl, or even dissipate. Considering how important aroma is to the overall wine experience, that’s a pretty big deal!
Taking that into account, it’s not surprising that there are over fifteen different types of wine glasses. Luckily, unless you’re a sommelier you can probably get away with just three.
|Pro Tip: Try not to overfill your wine glass. Leave enough room in your glass for the aromatic vapor to collect. You’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes!|
White Wine Glasses
While certain white wines require more oxygenation than others, overall they need less oxygen than red wines. For example, the flavors of a buttery chardonnay would benefit from more oxygen than a crisp pinot grigio. However, both would fall flat if you let them breathe them as long as a cabernet. White wines are also often more enjoyable at lower temperatures than red wines.
That being said, it makes more sense to serve white wines in glasses that have an upright, smaller “U” shaped bowl. This shape means less wine is exposed to oxygen, which is preferable for wines on the younger side. The theory behind this design provides several benefits. It helps protect delicate aromas, maintains chill temperatures, and helps express acidity.
Red Wine Glasses
For most red wines, a wider and rounder bowl is preferred. This allows more oxygenation which can help create a softer mouthfeel and smoother flavor. If you’re a red wine connoisseur, you’ll be fascinated to know that there’s a shockingly large variety of red wine glasses. There’s the “Bordeaux glass,” which is designed specifically for full-bodied wines, and there’s a “Bourgogne glass” which is slightly broader and helps collect aromatic vapors for wines on the delicate side.
However, if you’re simply trying to find a glass that works well for a variety of reds, you’ll want something that creates a larger surface area of wine to soften bitter tannins. If the aroma is particularly enjoyable, experiment with bowls that collect and concentrate those vapors.
Rosé Wine Glasses
Rosé is often best served chilled and is known for its floral and sometimes fruity flavors. That being said, the right glass for this type of wine really depends on the maturity of the bottle.
If you have a younger rosé, a shorter bowl with a flared lip is the way to go. You don’t want to lose the delicate aromatic compounds of this wine, and you want to get the full impact of its flavor. The small bowl means less oxygenation and the flared lip will cause the wine to touch the tip of your tongue to maximize the overall flavor. Older rosés, however, will benefit from a shorter bowl with no flare.
Choose Wine Glasses That Enhance Your Wine Experience
This is by no means a comprehensive list of wine glasses. It may sound silly, but the wine community REALLY loves wine. That means they take every variable that might impact the wine tasting experience into consideration. Whether it’s the size and shape of the glass, to the actual glass itself.
We could happily spend the rest of our lives learning and talking about wine, so if your interest is piqued be sure to follow us for all the latest updates and more wine knowledge. Plus, now that you’ve got all this info about wine glasses, it’s time to do some tasting! Consider subscribing to our monthly wine club or simply snag a few bottles for your next wine tasting event.