As a self-confessed wine buff (well, that is my job) I want people to enjoy it at its best. And that means serving wine in the right glass – it really does make a difference.
To start with, there are three main types you should have in your cupboard: red, white and flute.
Glasses for red wines have a larger bowl so the surface area of the wine itself is greater. This is because aerating it softens the tannins and develops the flavours.
With white wine glasses the bowl is smaller as you’re not trying to aerate the contents: the tannins are lighter and, rather than letting it mellow, you want a white to retain crispness.
In both cases, the glass should taper inwards towards the top of the bowl. This concentrates some of the fragrance, so you enjoy the bouquet as you sip. It also means you can swirl the wine inside the bowl before tasting, as the connoisseurs do, to release the aromas. Some people also believe the tapered shape directs the wine to specfic areas of the tongue when you drink, affecting how you taste it.
Look out for a longer stem on white wine glasses. This allows you to keep your hand further from the bowl of the glass as you hold it, so you don’t warm the wine.
For sparkling wine, a flute or tulip shape is best. The long, narrow bowl means the surface area of wine in contact with the air is low, so the wine keeps its fizz and flavour.
Those are the basic shapes covered. When it comes to spirits and aperetifs, there are two more worth mentioning.
For brandy drinkers, of course a brandy glass is a must. The short stem means the bowl warms gently in your hand as you hold it, releasing all those lovely aromas into the very broad bowl.
For other spirits – including whisky although some prefer a tumbler – I’d recommend a copita-style sherry glass. Like a flute this has a very narrow bowl, in this case designed to concentrate the bouquet towards your nose. The stem should also be long enough for you not to warm the bowl as you hold the glass.
(If you don’t have sherry glasses, champagne flutes will do the job very well. Just beware of your measures!)
To care for your glasses, wash them in warm water with just a small amount of detergent. Rinse them thoroughly, then leave to dry upside down. When dry, you can rub off any watermarks with a clean tea towel.
Store them upright in your cupboard – this stops stale air getting trapped in the bowl – and give them a rinse before use if you haven’t had them out in a while.
So there you have it. I hope this little guide helps you make the most of your next bottle. Cheers!