Wine experts know that each kind of wine benefits tremendously from being served in the right type of glass. The shape of the wine glass is the first indicator of its purpose–larger glasses for red wines, medium-size glasses for white wines and smaller and more distinctive glasses for spirits. The shape of a stem is important because it focuses the aromas and flavors in a specific manner. The shape can also direct the wine to different areas of your palate, enhancing the experience of the wine.
Red wine glasses tend to have a much larger bowl and are wider than white wine glasses. In most cases, the mouth of the glass is narrower than the bowl. Stronger aromas and flavors are associated with red wines. The wide bowl leaves more space for oxygen to reach the wine, allowing the wine to breathe, which not only results in an enhanced scent, but also allows the wine drinker to fully experience the aroma. The larger bowl and narrower mouth is also great for swirling the wine, trapping and focusing the aromas.
White wine glasses are more varied in shape and size. They’re narrower in the bowl than their red counterparts, which prevents larger amounts of oxygen from being exposed to the wine surface. This preserves the freshness and more fruity qualities associated with white wines. Champagne flutes are taller and have a much more narrow mouth. This reduces the surface area and allows bubbles to appear longer. And, of course, there are the more distinctive-sized glasses for martinis and for spirits such as an Italian grappa.
Zwiesel Kristallglas AG, the famed German maker of Schott Zwiesel and Zwiesel 1872 stemware, has led the glass industry for more than 100 years. Zwiesel was the first glassmaker to produce lead-free crystal glass of superb quality and brillance. If you have not had the opportunity to taste wine in a paper cup, versus wine in an goodwill- find wine glass or a stem made for wine, try the same wine side by side in all three and you will swear someone poured you three different wines. Of course, price and availability of the moment prevail, but we’re just saying–there is a difference.
Grappa – This glass attempts to tame the intense fire of the alcoholic concentration of grappa and to tease out the fruit and floral nose that grappa lovers can smell a mile away. Thank the glass for putting grappa in the right light so it can be appreciated.
Martini – This distinctive cone-shaped glass keeps the drink cool because of physical conical proportions that minimize the dissipation of cold, creates a great canvas for garnishes, and gives a very large area for showing off botanical aromatics–the distinct smells mostly associated with gin martinis.
Chardonnay – Since 20 percent of the wine drunk in the U.S. is Chardonnay, there are many kinds to choose from. If you have a nice white Burgundy or a more robust Chardonnay from a New World spot, this glass is made for these types of Chardonnays, known for luscious, ripe, even sometimes tropical, fruit flavors and aromas. This glass has a wider mouth than other white wine glasses, which allows the flavors to harmonize with acidity, making for a most lovely afternoon in dead summer Texas heat. As with all pours, if you want to swirl and swish, only pour about 4 ounces, but fancy notwithstanding, pour less at a time because, like 1⁄2 size Dos XX on the Mexican beach, it will stay cool longer.
Champagne – Champagne flutes kick the pants out of those martini-looking glasses that some bistros and fancy pants restaurants are serving bubbles in. Champagne flutes concentrate the surface area, as is the trend in most white wine glasses, and allow for a nice clean column to show off some of the most important aspects of Champagne and its components, the bubbles, and even allow the bubbles to keep on rising long after the first few minutes.
Beaujolais – (Designating which kind of Beaujolais is important: Nouveau, Village, Cru) Beaujolais varies immensely in quality from bottom rung to top. Where Cru Beaujolais could show interestingly also in the Bourgogne Grand Cru stem, most Beaujolais is not Cru designate, so this smaller red wine glass shows off the Gamay grape
Cognac Magnum – This glass is made to be held, so that your body temperature warms up the glass as you go. It is also made to accentuate the surface area in the bowl and concentrate the floral and fruit esters that make cognac so yummy.
Bordeaux Premier Cru – This glass is made to allow highly structured, tannic, beefy wine to be able to show off its layers and for them to be perceived, even in young, uncellared wine; since the nuances of Bordeaux can take decades or a century to fully come of age, this stem puts the big flavors in the back of the mouth and makes the wine palatable sooner. Great for the single varietal leading grapes of Bordeaux as well, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot
Bourgogne Grand Cru – (Made for Red Burgundy and Pinot Noir from other places. For White Burgundy, see Chardonnay.). This is the biggest and most interesting shape and size combination. This glass reveals the understated, fine aromatics that make good Burgundy ephemeral. By using a huge bowl, hence surface area, for the aromas to release, and designing a lipped rim, the delicate fruit is concentrated to the tip of the tongue while chilling out the effect of the wine’s acidity. Also ideal for Burgundy’s rival for greatness, the Nebbiolo grape, maker of Barolo, Barbaresco and some Ghemme and Gattinaras.
Champagne “Trumpet” Flutes – Champagne flutes kick the pants out of those martini-looking glasses that some bistros and fancy pants restaurants are serving bubbles in. Champagne flutes concentrate the surface area, as is the trend in most white wine glasses, and allow for a nice clean column to show off some of the most important aspects of Champagne and its components, the bubbles, and even allow the bubbles to keep on rising long after the first few minutes.