Updated: Feb 4, 2021
A few years back I was at a wine tasting night and I learnt something which changed the whole way I now drink wine. We all have our preferences on the varietal but did you know that the type of glass you drink it from can make it taste completely different?
This particular night I was blind folded and given three wines to drink. One was in a plastic wine glass, another was a thick small wine glass and the third was a large fine wine glass. I was asked to give my opinion on all three wines. I was quite vocal on the first two saying it was cheap wine which I thought was sharp and dry. The third I enjoyed immensely, smooth and full of flavour where I could recognise the aroma and varietal.
At the end of the experiment I was informed that it was the same wine in all three glasses, a Hunter Valley Shiraz. The difference was unbelievable and it was all due to the glass I was drinking it from. Red wine needs a large glass where there is space above the wine to collect aromas and also to allow the tannin in the wine to smooth out.
Besides the size and shape wine glasses now come with or without stems. From my experience white wine is best drank from a glass with a stem. This keeps the wine cooler as your hands aren't touching the area where the wine is. The stemless version I find is good for reds and for anyone with clumsy people around!
White Wine Glasses:
White wine glasses are smaller than their red companions and this is to help contain the concentration of aromas. The glass design also tends to keep wine cooler as well as expressing more acidity in the wine. Acidity in a white wine is the backbone to the wine, it makes you salivate after you have sipped the wine.
These smaller glasses also help to preserve the floral aromas found in white wine, like peach, apple blossom and rose.
Red Wine Glasses:
Red wine glasses have a wider opening at the top and are larger than white glasses. This allows it to take longer for the wine to get to your mouth and to aerate the wine which in turns softens the wine and allows it to open up. Some red wines have dry tannins which is what makes your mouth feel tacky and dry, and choosing the right glass helps this. Another way is to decanter your wine, you can find our blog on decanters here.
Sparkling Wine Glasses:
The main job of a champagne flute is to keep the bubbles alive in your glass and this is done by having a long thin bowl and a small opening at the top, particularly for dry sparkling wine. If you are drinking a fruitier sparkling wine like a prosecco or a rosé then a wider opening in a little bigger bowl can help release the aromas.
When drinking your sparkling wine try not to swirl the wine, it is only natural to do this but it disperses the bubbles and makes the wine go flat.
Dessert Wine Glasses:
Dessert wine glasses are small in volume so the alcohol doesn't evaporate too quickly from the glass. Most fortified wines are around the 18% alc/v mark and just need to be sipped. These wines include Botrytis Semillon, Fortified Shiraz and late harvest wines. Pair them with a dessert or just enjoy after a meal with cheese and raisins.