What’s the best glassware to enjoy your wine in? Whether you buy a $125.00 Riedel Bordeaux Wine Glass at Nieman Marcus or a set of 4 Libbey Vina Red Wine Glasses – $15.49 for the whole, at Target – there are certain rules worth observing to maximize the enjoyment of a fine wine.
- Always get clear glass – Although crystal is preferred, it is expensive and only serious wine connoisseurs can justify the expense. Why clear glass? Seeing the color of the wine, unadulterated by any materials or colors from the glass is an important part of enjoying the particular potable. Besides, the wine color tells how old the wine is, what grape(s) it’s made of and more.
- The glass should be large enough to release the bouquet - Never fill the glass more than half way, this allows the top of the glass to capture the bouquet or aroma of the wine as you give it a swirl. A quality wine glass tapers at the top. The bolder the wine the bigger the bowl the glass should have. A delicate wine requires a smaller bowl to bring out its best features.
- Always get a stemmed glass – This avoids your body temperature warming the wine, since you are holding the glass by the stem rather than by the bowl.
Riedel was the first company to introduce different size glasses to suit each wine type enhancing bouquet color and other fine qualities of the particular wine; many other companies, in almost every price range, followed. Not even the most fervent cognoscente will need every shape, but two or three types, especially when you know what suits which type of wine would add to the wine tasting experience.
Glassware used for a Pinot Noir or Red Burgundy are the widest and resemble a sniffer. These glasses direct the aroma to the nose while allowing ample room for the wine to air out. It’s really quite remarkable how wine that is allowed to air out (even for a few minutes) tastes different and far better than a wine that was poured and tasted seconds after.
Glasses for full bodied Bordeaux and other red wines are slightly narrower and less round, but still tapered on top. Chardonnays and White Burgundy are best enjoyed in midrange bowls and are even less rounded. Ideal glasses for Sauvignon Blanc wines are smaller yet, but have a wide bowl to fully show off the flavors and aromas of these wine types. Champagne (or any sparkling wine) is best enjoyed in a tall, narrow “flute.” This shape minimizes warming while letting you see the bubbles in the most attractive manner.
Non fortified dessert wines require smaller glasses, but are still rounded. Even smaller are Port glasses, which are also used for all fortified dessert wines, they show off the color while directing the bouquet to the nose through the relatively narrow top. While technically unnecessary, the Sherry glass has a more square bowl, it is smaller than a Port glass and very attractive.
Now that you have a nice collection of wine glasses, how do you care for them? Wash between uses, some experts advise washing only with hot water, while others suggest hot water with dish detergent as long as the glass is rinsed thoroughly to be free of all detergent remainder. Even a smallest amount of lemon or other such scented detergent can ruin the nose of any wine. When done, always hold up the glasses to the light to make sure they are clean. A superficially clean glass may be covered with a very fine scum which is very difficult to remove with a gentle rinsing. Such residue will adversely affect the wine especially if it is a champagne or other sparkling types, as they won’t show their fizz.
Once washed let the glasses drip dry, when dry polish them to remove any unsightly water marks. Store them upright in an odor free cupboard.