Do you know which are the most appropriate glasses to entirely enjoy the sensations from the experience of drinking wine?
Nowadays there are already many scientific studies that evidence the importance of the shape of the wine glasses.
In one of the studies, from 2015, a group of japanese medics used a special chamber to record footage of the ethanol vapors in several types of glasses. In that study, the group managed to demonstrate how the shapes of glasses have an effect on the density and disposition of the fumes in the top part of the glasses.
Why are the fumes so important?
They carry the aromatic components of the wine to our nose. These aromas are responsible of creating the bigger part of the flavor experience of the wine.
This way, the pleasure you get from wine increases when you drink it in the most appropriate glass, that values its particularities and brings out its qualities. Its design – size, shape and stem – is created thinking about a certain kind of wine.
The complexity and intensity with which we feel the wine’s aroma vary with the size and shape of the glasses “bowl”, which can also influence the perception of taste once the wine is in your mouth.
To utilise a glass with adequate proportions, transparent, with fine glass and good quality will help you enjoy the wine to its full potential.
Starting with the material, right from the start we can exclude any glass that isn’t transparent. After all, part of the pleasure of tasting a wine is looking at its colour, which tips about the kind of grape and age of the wine.
Crystal or glass?
Well, the difference between them is in the amount of lead – a metal used in its production. Crystal glasses are up to 24% lead, while glass has none. Lead makes a glass lighter, delicate and sonority, apart from making the glass thinner. Crystal glasses are also more porous. This is a positive factor because when you swirl a wine the molecules are forced against the harsher surface, you break them, thusly getting a greater concentration of aromas.
Besides, it is also important that the glasses have a good stem so as to avoid that the heat from the hands heats the wine and even to prevent that the hands aromas mix with the wine scents that go into our noses.
Let’s go into the specifics of the appropriate glass for each wine.
Red wine needs “room to breathe”, because it has very intense aromas and flavors. So the glass has to have a “bigger body”, making the wine release its full essence. The shape should also be ideal so that the drink can “dance”. For that reason, it is also important to remind you that this glass should only be filled up to a third of its capacity.
There are two common types of red wine glasses: Bordeaux and Burgundy, baptized after the famous wine regions in France.
These glasses were designed for full-bodied wines, high in tannins, mainly made from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Their bowl is quite large but not very round, in order to avoid the dispersion of aromas, concentrating them.
Thus, thanks to their larger slim, this glass makes wines taste smoother and highlights their aromatic notes, softening the spiciness and the tannins’ acidity, and letting ethanol to evaporate better. Their less-round bowl shape helps the aromas in the wine dissipate faster and become less intense as they entered the nose
This glass is best for grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Alicante Bouschet and Shyraz.
Borgonha wines are more complex and delicate, produced mainly with the Pinot Noir grape. The large round bowl, larger than the Bordeaux one, allows the aromas to develop well and helps to collect them and reach our nose.
This type of glass shape directs the wine flow above the tongue’s tip and center, reducing the acidity and accentuating the wine’s more rounded and ripe qualities. In addition to Pinot Noir, it is also ideal for wines with Rioja, Barbera Barricato, Amarone, Nebbiolo, among others.
Usually, white wines aromas are best distinguished in tulip shaped glasses, similar to the reds ones, but have a smaller opening and a smaller bowl.
Those characteristics help preserve the low temperatures at which these wines must be tasted, as there are less heat exchanges with the environment. In addition, these glasses preserve and deliver the whites floral aromas and enhance the wine acidity.
For full-bodied white wines, like oak-aged Chardonnay, Viognier, white Rioja, the best glasses have a larger bowl, to better emphasize their creamy texture.
Rosé wines have the tannins of the red, but the aromas of the white ones. For this reason, the bowl should be small, like the ones for the white wines, but also rounder, in order to accentuate the acidity of the wine and thus balancing its sweetness.
For a champagne or a common sparkling wine, glasses must be tall and with a not very wider bowl, just like the flute. These are the ones that preserve the bubbles production the most, a synonym of quality for this type of wine.
They should be elegant, made of a thin material, such as crystal, to be less obtrusive with the taste, and narrow enough so as to be able to enjoy all the aromas, acidity and deep flavors of this wine.
So, do not forget that these glasses should not be too narrow! Otherwise, the wine’s own aromas will not be felt and the taste will lose much of its quality.
Port wine, Moscatel de Setúbal and Madeira Wine are served in small quantities. Therefore, the most adequate glass to appreciate them is usually smaller, although its shape is similar to the most common ones used for white and red wines. This shape helps to direct the wine flow directly to the tip of the tongue, where sweet tastes are most perceived.