Before moving into my apartment last summer, I was on a hunt for wine glasses. They seriously come in all shapes and sizes. I didn’t really think it mattered (as long as I was drinking, who cared what the glass looked like), but it turns out that when it comes to these glasses, like everything else wine, IT MATTERS.
The anatomy of each wine glass is similar. There’s a base, a stem, and a bowl. The base is the easy one and does the hard work: it keeps the glass from falling over! The stem is pretty important because it prevents the heat from your hands from transferring to the bowl and altering the temperature of the wine. And then the bowl…this is where the differences occur: there are pretty much 4 basic shapes…
1. RED WINE GLASS: This glass has a large bowl and big mouth opening. The full shape allows air to get into the wine when you’re swirling it and tasting it, and also lets you stick your nose down deep inside so that you can get a big whiff of it when smelling the bouquet.
2. WHITE WINE GLASS: The shape of this glass is much narrower than a red wine glass and has more of a “U” shape. As noted in a previous post, white wine is served colder than red, and this glass keeps the temperature cooler by containing the wine in a smaller area.
3. SPARKLING WINE GLASS: These are the dainty, pretty ones! They have a very narrow, long shape so that the carbonation is contained within the flute.
4. DESSERT WINE GLASS: Dessert wines have a higher alcohol content than most other wines, so you need to drink them in smaller quantities (well, you don’t need to, but you should). Hence, the dessert wine glass is smaller than other wine glasses.
Be sure to pick the right one when serving to guests, because the taste and temperature can alter greatly if served in the wrong glass.
On a side note, stemless wine glasses have become popularized recently by companies like Reidel. I, personally, use these in my home and appreciate their casualness and quirkiness. I’ve learned my lesson though, because my wine’s temperature is altered relatively quickly while holding the bowl directly.