Choosing your wine glass can be subjective. We’re confident in saying that most casual wine drinkers choose a glass for how it looks over anything else. But, some guiding principles might help sway your decision next time you’re shopping for glassware.
Generally, the theory is the same no matter what the tipple – the shape of the glass and the size of its opening directly relates to the tasting experience and even the temperature. The correct glass can help maximise a wine’s aromas and flavour, so it is beneficial to have different glasses for red, white or sparkling wine. If you can spare the cupboard space, then do read on.
Pairing glasses with wines
Sparkling wine is undoubtedly all about the bubbles (which are also known as the mousse or bead). It’s rare to drink sparkling wine out of anything other than a flute, and for good reason. A tall glass promotes a large vertical surface area for bubbles to travel up the glass. However, a narrow horizontal surface area can keep aromas and flavours closed off.
This is why you may see some people using a typical white wine glass instead. A good choice of glass will maintain the height of a flute but with a wider surface area, allowing flavours to breathe – providing a happy medium between bubbles and flavour.
If you opt for a white wine glass for your fizz, make sure it has a nucleation point in the centre, encouraging a healthy bead of bubbles. The nucleation point is a rough or risen area inside the bottom of the glass, and its job is to agitate the wine and produce more bubbles. It’s not uncommon to see these etchings inside beer glasses too.
White wine is best consumed in small to medium-sized wine glasses. Smaller glasses are better suited to aromatic and fruity styles of wine, helping to promote fresh flavours. Medium-sized glasses will work best with broader, richer flavours or white wines that have been matured in oak.
Bonus tip: By holding the glass by the stem rather than the bulb (the main body of the glass), you avoid warming the wine. There are actually several ways to hold a white wine glass, but perhaps that’s a story for another day.
Red contains varying levels of tannin that require a larger surface area to ‘open up’. Therefore, red wines are best served in medium to large glasses. You’ll typically find that red wine glasses are taller too, and this is to encourage the wine to hit the back of your mouth, maximising its flavour.
It’s worth noting that not all red wines are created equal, at least when it comes to the glass they’re served in. For instance, wines from the Bordeaux region are best enjoyed in ‘regular’ red wine glasses – the ones that you’re likely used to seeing and drinking from.
However, more delicate wines such as those from the Burgundy region are better suited to a shorter, bulbous glass with a wider brim. This encourages more aeration and for the aromas to concentrate, bringing out the true flavour of the wine.
When it comes to holding the glass, it’s seen as less of a faux pas to handle it by the bulb, as red wine is traditionally served warmer than white.
If you’d like to know more about serving temperatures, check out our recent blog on the topic.
So, next time you’re considering a glass of red or white, take a moment to think about these handy serving suggestions as they may help you enjoy your chosen wine to its full potential. Cheers!