There are two types of wine drinkers in the world: those who care about which wine goes into which type of glass, and those who would happily drink their wine straight from the bottle if society didn’t tend to look down on such things.
Joking aside, there is a point to be made here: we all know that there are different types, shapes and sizes of glass for different types of wines - from wide bowled Bordeaux glasses, to tall elegant flutes, small rounded sherry glasses and more - but do they really matter, and do they really make a difference?
The answer, as with all things in the world of wine, is ‘yes, and no’.
There is some logic behind the design of different wine glasses, and they are actually made in that way in order to enhance your enjoyment of the wine. There is also some pleasure to be had in the ceremonial aspect of wine serving and wine drinking, if you like that sort of thing.
However, deep down, we all know full well that what really matters is what’s in the glass, not which shape it comes in.
We no longer live in the 19th century, anxiously sticking to the rules of etiquette like ants in honey, and the bottom line to this (and to most things in life) is to drink wine in whatever way makes you feel most comfortable.
Personally, I quite like the modern trend for stemless, casual wine glasses, and am far too clumsy to be trusted with expensive glassware anyway (especially after a few glasses of Riesling) - but whatever floats your boat is alright by me.
That being said, let’s take a brief look at some of the logic behind wine glasses, their shapes, sizes and styles, and you can make your mind up for yourself.
The size and shape of the bowl of the glass does make a difference if you’re serious about your wine tasting and want the full sensory experience.
The bigger the bowl, the more wines (red wines, particularly) can ‘open up’ in the glass, and allow the aromas to circulate and fully manifest themselves.
Consider the Stem
The stem of the glass is the defining feature of the classic wine glass, and the idea behind this is to allow the drinker to comfortably hold their wine, without affecting the temperature of the bowl with their body heat.
Fine white wines could potentially be negatively influenced by the heat from your hands, and the stem helps keep things at an optimum temperature for enjoyment.
Of course, if you drink your wine quickly, this doesn’t really matter…
Glass or Crystal?
Fine crystal glasses are considerably thinner than those made of regular glass, and this is said to have an effect on both wine and the drinking experience. Quite what that effect is, I honestly have no idea.
Admittedly, the ‘feel’ of an expensive fine glass is quite pleasant, but I can’t see how it has any further influence than that.
Flutes and Fizz
One of the most distinctive wine glass shapes out there is the classic Champagne flute. By reducing the surface area of the sparkling wine, flutes allow fizzy wines to retain their bubbles for longer, which most people would argue is the whole attraction of drinking sparkling wines.
However, I would argue that Champagne (less so with other sparkling wine styles) actually benefits from being served in a regularly shaped wine glass, as although the fizz will dissipate more quickly, the bubbles will still remain present on the palate and the flavours of the wine will come forward more fully and comfortably.
The Colour Question
Most serious wine drinkers wouldn’t dream of serving their wines in coloured or etched glasses, and I’m probably with them on this one.
The colour of wine is one of the beautiful things about the drink and the drinking experience, and it seems a little odd to use glasses which get in the way of this.
Now that we've given you a rundown of the science behind wine glass size and shape, let's go to our favourite part.. actually drinking what's in the glass!
Hop on over to the link below and take our wine palate quiz. Based on the results, we'll let you know our top 3 wine recommendations for you!