Choosing The Right Glass For Your Beer, Wine, and Spirits: Part Two


* Please click here to read part one of this series.

When discussing glassware for adult beverages, there is no doubt that wine glassware holds an extremely important place in the discussion. There are a dozen or so classic glassware shapes for wine, both white and red, each designed specifically for a wine’s bouquet, texture, flavor, and physical properties. Let us now examine some of the most common wineglass styles, and see why they are appropriate for their particular wine.

Red Wine:

1. Pinot noir glass.

As the name indicates, this glass is intended to hold Pinot noir. This wine has become extremely popular in the US over the past couple of decades, perhaps because New World Pinot noir can tend to be more fruit-forward than Old World wines. This glass has a very wide bowl to allow oxygenation (which mellows and opens up a wine), yet its mouth is tapered back dramatically in order to focus the bouquet.

2. Bordeaux glass.

A Bordeaux glass is comparatively tall, with a medium-wide bowl and a slightly narrower mouth. Bordeaux tend to be very concentrated, big, flavorful wines (although older Bordeaux are much mellower), with high alcohol fumes. The tall glass helps to dissipate these fumes, while the large bowl allows oxidation to disperse the flavor throughout the wine.

3. Burgundy (Bourgogne) glass.

Burgundy, often considered the world’s finest wine by experts (and the most expensive!), also uses the Pinot noir grape. And while French Pinot noir is also relatively fruit-forward like its New World cousin, it also tends to produce more well-developed, fuller bouquets. A Burgundy glass is relatively short, with with a nice, wide bowl, and a narrower mouth. This allows the wine to oxygenate broadly, creating an intense bouquet, and then the narrow mouth concentrates that bouquet.

4. Rosé glass.

While rosé is somewhere between red and white wine, it still follows the principles of red wine. A rosé glass has a tall stem for delicate holding.  The width overall is medium-wide, to allow the wine’s bouquet to rise. But the mouth is flared outward. This is so that the wine will pour onto the top of the drinker’s tongue, because rosé has a high acidity level, and acid is not detected toward the top of the tongue.

5. Syrah glass.

Syrah has a buttery, fruity quality (but it can also be spicy) that is prominent in New World wines. The Syrah glass, specifically created by the Riedel wineglass company, is medium-sized overall, with a relatively wide bowl and narrow mouth. According to Riedel, this is so that the wine’s intensity can be tempered with oxygenation, and then the fruity qualities intensified by the narrow mouth.

White Wine:

1. Champagne flute.

A champagne flute is a tall, very narrow glass that is specifically designed to keep the bubbles from dissipating too quickly, and to concentrate and focus the aromatic nature of the wine.

2. Chablis glass.

Made from the Chardonnay grape, white wine from the Chablis region is crisp and acidic. It thus does well in a smaller, narrow glass. The acidity is an important part of the enjoyment of Chablis, so less oxygenation is desired.

3. Sauvignon blanc glass.

Sauvignon blanc is a very aromatic white wine by nature, with fruity undertones. Thus, its ideal glass is narrow and tapered, to concentrate and lift that wonderful bouquet.

4. Chardonnay glass.

A good Chardonnay has a medium-to-high acidity, even those with a buttery mouthfeel. Underneath that acidity is a bounty of complex aromas and flavors — one of the reasons that Chardonnay is prized among white wine drinkers. Thus, a good Chardonnay glass will have a very wide bowl and a wide mouth, so that oxygenation can cut some of that acidity to bring out the complex flavors.

5. Sauterne glass.

Sauternes are sweet dessert wines, but also very structured and complex, and have the potential for long aging. A Sauterne glass generally has a relatively wide bowl with a thinner, tapered mouth. Because Sauternes are so sweet, it is desirable to bring out their small acidity and alcohol fumes. This glass accomplishes that.

You may notice that all of these glassware styles are for French wine. That is not because the only good wines are French! Rather, it is because the French traditionally like to categorize and control things (compare a wild English garden to an ordered, trimmed French garden), and they take their Gastronomy very seriously. They have thus analyzed wine drinking intensely, and thereby created such a complex system of glassware. Other wine-drinking cultures, such as those of Italy, Spain, and California, also have certain glassware preferences, but they tend to be in simple, broad categories: wider glasses for more complex, full-flavored wines, and narrower glasses for more fruit-forward wines.

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