Wine culture is one of detail and elegance. There is a great deal of preparation that goes into the consumption of wine. More than some people might even realize, depending on how much experience they have. We have discussed how wine needs to be prepared before being served at length, including the decanting of wine before offering it to those at the table.
However, the real question lies in whether or not there is more than just preparing the wine itself to making sure you serve it properly. With so much wine paraphernalia, it can be challenging to determine what is superfluous and what is necessary.
One of the biggest questions about serving wine lies in the glasses from which we drink. Wine glasses come in many shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, this can make figuring out which set to use a challenge for those new to wine. The fact is that the many glasses are often misattributed as little more than an aesthetic change. This article hopes to provide some insight into which glasses are best for which wines.
What Are the Styles for Red Wines?
Wine glasses come in many different styles that are meant, in theory, to serve as the standard for wines of a specific type. One of the main divisions between wine glasses is the color of the wine you are looking to drink. There are specific glasses that, allegedly, serve as a better vessel for red wines and others ideal for white wines.
This is because, on a fundamental level, red and white wines are different in terms of their ingredients, profiles, and production. White wines are never decanted, unlike red wines, which frequently require a decantation period before enjoying them.
However, the color of the wine is not the only division between the types of glasses made for it. Certain red wines have particular glasses explicitly made to complement their specific composition and production. For example, the three most popular red wine glass variations include:
- Cabernet Sauvignon/Bordeaux Glasses: These wine glasses feature a larger bowl held higher up by the stem than other glasses. This design allows more oxygen to reach the wine, softens the tannins, and promotes a superior flavor.
- Syrah/Shiraz Glasses: These wine glasses are a little taller than the previous ones but also feature a small taper at the top. This design provides a similar aeration effect and mellows the tannins.
- Pinot Noir/Burgundy Glasses: These wine glasses have a much wider bowl and a tapered rim. These glasses are more oriented toward promoting the aroma of the wines to showcase the fruit within.
As you might have noted, the different red wine glasses feature the names of some very popular red wine brands. Each variation is meant to complement the wines for which they are named more effectively. However, red wines are not the only wines that enjoy specific glasses for their variations.
What Are the Styles for White Wines?
Like red wines, white wines have specialized styles for their glasses. However, since the composition of white wines does not require decantation to ensure the profile matures properly, the purpose of these glasses is a little different. White wines are a little less fragile than red wines because the grapes used in their creation are more rugged and have a more citric profile. However, the background of the wine will lead to different flavors and scents that distinguish them from red wines.
There are two major variations when it comes to glasses of white wine. The differing white wine glasses that are seen in common use today include:
- Chardonnay/Viognier Glasses: These wine glasses have narrower rims and slightly smaller bowls than red wine glasses. These glasses are designed to maximize the profile of younger, aromatic white wines and keep them colder longer.
- White Burgundy Glasses: These wine glasses are similar in design to the Burgundy glasses for red wines but are just a little smaller. This variation is meant to promote the aeration that white wine does require and offset any overwhelming fruit flavors.
There are fewer white wine glasses than red wine since the profiles of white wines are less disparate when compared to their red counterparts. However, these specific glasses allow you to enjoy white wines as they were intended to be enjoyed depending on their aromas and profiles. That said, sparkling wines also exist that often demand their specialized glass as well. Seeing as you will never find a sparkling red wine, it is worth noting this particular detail here.
Sparkling wines are served almost exclusively in special glasses that use a narrow bowl. The reason for this is that the narrower space allows for the preservation of carbonation. If the glass is too wide, the carbonation will fizzle out much quicker than it should and leave you with an unpleasant beverage. These glasses, also known as champagne flutes, are ubiquitous and are one of the few glasses that deserve a little extra consideration if you are an avid fan of sparkling drinks. However, there is more to glass variation than simple wine color and carbonation preservation.
Stemmed Glasses vs. Stemless Glasses
When you think of wine glasses, the odds are good you imagine the typical tall vessel with a bowl suspended from a glass stem. Like a flower from which you can drink. However, while stemmed glasses of wine were very much the norm for many years, stemless glasses exist from which you can enjoy fine wine. However, the real question is whether or not the stem makes any practical difference to the quality of the experience and beverage.
The reality is that there are no significant benefits or detriments to using a stemless glass as opposed to a stemmed one. Neither one is designed for a specific color, vintage, or brand of wine. Honestly, stemless glasses are primarily meant to offer an opportunity to enjoy a glass of wine with the same ease that you would a glass of water, rather than having to compensate for the stem. That said, one minor issue can arise from the use of a stemless wine glass.
It is a well-known fact that white wines, while less fragile than red in some respects, are still sensitive to temperature. It is for this reason that white wines are exclusively enjoyed while chilled. However, a warm white wine will have an altogether unpleasant profile as most subtleties are lost to temperature, unlike red wines, which are less sensitive to temperature if not served chilled. Unfortunately, this weakness can come into play when using stemless glasses to serve white wine.
When holding a stemless glass, heat from our hands can travel through the glass and heat white wines to a certain degree. The amount of heat generated by a human hand is minimal. However, it can occasionally be enough to affect the flavor profile of the wine if you are the sort of person who enjoys taking their time with their drink. Aside from this, however, the only real risk to using a stemless glass in place of a stemmed one is that you might smudge the glass with fingerprints. Something generally avoided with stemmed glasses since the stems are easier to wipe down.
Does the Glass Really Matter?
When it comes to serving wine, there is plenty to consider before you even decide when you want to serve it. You need to consider the storage of the wine and the preparation of the wine, and now you might even be thinking about what kinds of glasses to buy. Knowing that there are different glass variations for each type of wine can make it seem like there is no end to the supplies you will need to support your wine lifestyle. However, the specific glasses are not a mandatory part of the experience.
We realize that life is a pageant for some, and maintaining the aesthetic of your wine drinking habits can be an important step for you. After all, why not get the specialized glasses for the many types of wines out there? It can show your dedication to the culture that surrounds wine drinking and exemplify the depths of your knowledge when it comes to wine. However, if you are more interested in simply serving the wine and letting it speak for itself, there is a universal solution.
There exist simple wine glasses that are effective for all wines that will have little to no impact on the wine’s profile. These universal glasses are designed to do exactly as the name implies and serve as ideal vessels for virtually every type of wine available for consumption. Universal glasses are the typical glasses that your mind likely goes to when the word “wine” leaves someone’s lips. The size is closer to a Chardonnay glass, but it is remarkably versatile and a highly effective vessel for any wine you care to try.
So, while many glasses can benefit some of the lesser-known aspects of a wine’s profile, they are not strictly necessary. However, you will want to ensure that you are drinking your wine from an actual wine glass. Ultimately, the impact of the glass you serve your wine in has a minor effect on the profile and quality, but the most significant part is the aesthetic and feel you provide with particular glasses. If you find yourself drawn to improving the atmosphere with specialized glasses, it will never hurt either.
Raise a Glass (of Your Choice) With Us
Wine is more than just a drink. It is a culture all its own with many facets and nuances that serve as a way to unite even the most different of people under the love of wine. There are so many different types of wine out there, with many different ways to enjoy them: a fine red wine, a chilled glass of white, or even a celebratory glass of champagne.
At the end of the day, each type of wine can be enjoyed in the way you want. When it comes to the glass you serve it in, you will find that it is far less important than ensuring your wine has been safely stored and decanted (if necessary) before serving. The glasses are little more than a vessel to add to the elegance of the drink with only minor adjustments to the flavor, aroma, or profile.
We believe that wine has the power to bring us all together as we are not simply sitting around taking sips. We are exchanging stories, ideas, and opinions and coming closer together in a previously unseen society. We at the Wine Diarist understand that this culture is worthy of preservation and have made it our mission to help enlighten newcomers to this world on how to enjoy wine and be a part of its world. We have worked to answer most people’s questions about wine as we carry on though we know we are far from finished. If you have other questions about wine, we urge you to visit our website and peruse our articles.
For example, have you ever wondered how you can describe the taste of wine like an expert on the topic? That is actually one of the questions we have answered already! You can find that answer in this article, over here.
Or perhaps you’ve heard the term “jammy” before when someone references a wine, but you are not quite aware as to what it might mean. We have also written an article on that topic as well. It will tell you what jammy wine is, how it is made, and what to look out for when seeking one. You can find that article over here.
We also know that you might have questions we have yet to address. If this is the case, we implore you to leave a comment asking the questions you want to be answered. We are here to help and unite as many people as we can in the wondrous world of wine. Until then, we toast your health and happiness. Cheers to you!