You can enhance each sip of wine by using the right glassware. This goes far beyond using different stemware for reds, whites, and of course champagne. The reason for this is that even thought the shapes are sometimes subtly different, how the wine is deposited in your mouth, can alter the taste dramatically. True wine aficionados will have the proper stemware for each different type of wine they serve.
My husband and I had of course heard of this, but until we actually experienced it for ourselves, we did not believe that there would be that much difference. We were both sitting, relaxing, and enjoying a favourite red, from what we thought were identical red wine glasses. I mistakenly picked up his and took a sip. All of a sudden, it was as if a switch had been turned on and I could taste, not only the main flavour of the wine, but the flavour of apricots was in my mouth as well! Back and forth we traded glasses, comparing and marvelling how such a subtle difference in shape of bowl could cause a either a dulling, or awakening of the wine we were drinking.
Of course, we immediately went out to a local winery in search of the appropriate stemware. Here we were faced with too many options. We were asked what we preferred to drink (wine, of course) and to be specific (red wine), still more specific. After helping us narrow it down, they advised us on a more “multipurpose” glass that would work for the heavier reds we tend to prefer.
I write this not to discourage, but to let you know that if you are not using better stemware of the correct type, you should investigate what’s out there and start your collection. Here are some tips on what to look for (ideally – a well informed sales person):
Choose a wine glass that is made from clear, crystal, half-crystal or high quality superior glass. Stemware produced from these materials is can be made to be extremely thin, with 1 millimeter being ideal for a wine glass. It should have a long stem, keeping the hand properly placed, and therefore, not affecting the temperature of the wine in your glass.
A red wine glass is designed with a larger bowl and wider mouth than others. This is to allow more air to circulate—allowing a full-bodied wine to breathe. The size of the glass should be large enough so that a serving (approximately 4-6 ounces) only fills the bottom half of the glass. This allows for easier swirling, which helps the red wine breathe. The aromas of red wine are also extremely important – a good swirl, sniff, and sip in quick succession will give you the best taste. The larger bowl allows for all of this to comfortably happen. A full-bodied red, like a Cabernet Sauvignon is best served at about 64° F—while a Pinot Noir, a light bodied red, could be served at 54° F.
Two of the most common red wine glasses are “Bordeaux” and “Burgundy.” A bordeaux glass has the wide bowl, but is a bit taller than the burgundy. A tall glass will move the wine to the back of the palete, where it’s best to taste the more full-bodied reds, and the shorter burgundy glass will deposite the wine to the front of the palete, best for a lighter-bodied red.
White wine should be served in a small and narrow tulip-shaped glass, but not as narrow as a champagne flute. The narrowness of the glass allows for less surface area within, helping to retain the cooler temperature at which the white wine is usually served (43° to 52° F). By holding the glass at the stem you will be able to help the wine maintain its ideal serving temperature. A 3 to 5 ounce pour is nice for a white wine
Champagne and Prosecco are best served in narrow, fluted, and tall stemware. The shape helps the wine maintain its fizziness and the long stem will keep your hand from warming up the wine. The usual pour for a champagne flute is approximately 6 – 7 ounces and the ideal serving temperature is 45° F.
Ice Wine is served in a shorter stemware with a very small bowl, similar to a sherry glass. This potent beverage should be sipped slowly and usually only small quantities are consumed.
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Copyright 2008 Sandy King