Serving and Storing
Many wine purists (aka “snobs”) believe that proper glassware is essential to the enjoyment of wine. This is just not true. Sure there is glassware that can be considered better than others. Those that help to enhance the overall wine drinking experience by intensifying aromas and tastes. That is precisely the reason why certain wine glasses look and feel different depending on the type/style of wine they were made for. It also helps to drink out of something clean, because two-day-old milk never tastes good mixed with wine. But, while one glass may be better than another there is no true right and wrong when choosing as long as your ultimate goal is to just drink a glass of wine. That is why at WineCOW we believe that wine can, and should, be drunk out of any vessel you like, so don’t let the lack of a special glass stop you.
However, for those people that do take their wine drinking seriously, and/or hope to improve the overall tasting experience, then there are certain guidelines that can be followed. Note that we say “guidelines” not “rules”, because drinking wine should always be done on your terms.
Some information about wine glasses:
Glass is preferred because it is a completely inert material (doesn’t react chemically) and doesn’t impart any off flavors to the wine. Clear glass is standard so the wine’s color can be appreciated.
Wine glasses narrow toward the rim so wine can be swirled (to maximize aroma) without spilling on your pants. The narrowed top also helps to concentrate the aromas for smelling.
Traditionally, red wine glasses are bigger (10-16 oz) than white wine glasses (8-14 oz) because red wines are thought to give off their richer aromas more easily in larger glasses. But, you don’t have to drink out of different sized glasses. In fact, you can drink wine out of any glass you want. So, if you are planning to purchase wine glasses and are either on a budget and/or don’t have a lot of room to store separate wine glasses for red and white wines, buy an all-purpose 12-14 ounce wine glass and use it for both. Sometimes I even like to drink beer out of mine.
White wine glasses are medium size and taper inward at the top. This tapering not only keeps you from spilling but also helps focus the wine’s aromas inward toward the nose. Traditional glasses often range from eight to fourteen ounces in size. When serving fill to one-third of its capacity (about three ounces), so you don’t slosh any on your shirt.
Red wine glasses taper inward at the top to keep your pants free of wine stains and help to focus the aromas. Traditional red wine glasses range from ten to sixteen ounces, with a slightly larger, rounder bowl than the white wine glass.
Sparkling wines, including Champagne, are often served in elongated glasses that narrow at the top called flutes, which preserve the wine’s fizziness.
Dessert wines are served in smaller glasses because these wines are served in smaller portions than table wines.
Thin glasses are preferable to thick, heavy ones. They have less influence on the temperature of the wine, and your arm doesn’t get so tired after several glasses down.
Holding the Glass
Traditional wine glasses have stems to hold on to so the wine’s temperature will not be altered by the temperature of the drinker’s hands. The heat from your hand may heat up the wine and change its flavor. However, any dedicated wine drinker should be able to consume their wine before this makes much difference. So, if holding your glass by the bowl feels more comfortable, then feel free. You can always pour another glass if it gets too warm.
One of the greatest wine killers is soap. Dish detergent often leaves a film that cannot be seen. When wine comes in contact with this film it will negatively affect the taste and smell of the wine. When dining out smell the glasses before the wine is poured. If you can smell soap ask for the glasses to be rinsed again. When washing your own glasses rinse well with plain hot water. Water itself can leave odors behind, so you may want to use a filter on your water faucet to prevent sulfur or chlorine odors depending on the condition of your source.
It’s not always convenient or practical to haul around fragile wine glasses in certain situations such as camping, boating, hiking, etc… But, don’t let that spoil your ability to enjoy a glass of wine whenever or wherever you want. Find a container that suits your needs and enjoy.
While this information on glassware is useful, and can definitely help to improve the taste of your wine, remember that these are just guidelines, not rules. For there is only one true rule when drinking wine: drink however and whatever you enjoy because in the end it’s all about personal preference. But, if you do want to learn more about why and how a wine glass can affect and/or improve the overall wine drinking experience…or if you’re just curious as to what all the fuss is about…this information can be useful.