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Selecting Wine Glasses - How to Select the Right Wine Glasses
What's more confusing? Selecting the right wine or selecting wine glasses? Personally, I find it a bit of a draw.
Reading a review of a wine is a bit like tackling a foreign language. I have no idea what they are going on about and I definitely can't taste all of those "notes". Basically I can detect sweet, dry, acidity, oak, tannin and whether a wine is particularly fruity or not. But whether the wine has notes of blackberry, cassis, pineapple or tobacco or fruit flies, I don't really know. I just scratch my head. Maybe I'll figure it out on my next glass.
Of course, that leads me straight to the next wine-related task. Pouring the wine into the correct stemware. Who knew just having a drink could be so confusing? Here's a few hints on how to select wine glasses based upon the types of wine you'll be serving.
Choosing the Right Wine Glass
My mom has this really gorgeous Waterford crystal stemware at home -- all deeply etched heavy crystal. It looks great on the table and it is so heavy that it doesn't shatter if you accidentally hit it with your fork while gesticulating over the Thanksgiving turkey. Turns out though that it really isn't the best stemware for appreciating wine. Thinner is better when it comes to enhancing the grape!
Does this mean you shouldn't buy Waterford? Nope, but you may want to look at their patterns that aren't etched. Will I be letting my sister adopt all the Waterford crystal after my parents are gone? NO!
How to Pick the Right Wine Glass
So where do you start?
I'd say that this really depends on how much space you have to store all that glassware and how often you drink wine. Of course, I'm assuming if you're worrying about selecting the right wine glass in the first place, you probably drink a fair bit.
The most important aspect of any wineglass is the bowl -- the part of the wine glass that actually holds the wine, but the stem and the foot (the part that keeps it standing on the table) are important too.
Some Riedel SamplesClick thumbnail to view full-size
The basic recommendations are:
- Reds - a big bowl with a wider mouth and enough height to the glass that you can give a half-full wineglass a good swirl and the wine won't end up on your carpet. You'll notice in the samples shown that there isn't a huge obvious difference between the glass for Merlot and the glass for Chardonnay, but the Merlot glass is a bit taller, has a wider opening at the mouth and the widest part of the bowl is wider than the Chardonnay glass.
- Whites - a smaller bowl and a narrower mouth. Whites are more delicate than reds and lots of swirling is generally counterproductive, so you don't need as much height in the bowl. It should be narrower at the mouth however, to focus the aromas. The glass should generally be tulip-shaped.
- Champagne - always a flute, never the wide glasses marketed as "champagne glasses". You want tall and skinny to help keep those bubbles bubbling.
Where to Go Next
The stem keeps your hand from transferring its warmth to the wine so its best to avoid the fashionable stemless wineglasses. They kind of defeat the whole purpose of paying careful attention to the glassware in the first place since temperature plays an important part in wine appreciation as well and the best way to control temperature is to keep your body warmth well away from the grappa.As for the foot, you want one sturdy enough that your glass won't be in danger of tipping over and you want to make sure that the meeting of stem with foot is thick enough that the stem won't snap if you choose to swirl your glass from the foot. In all cases, you want a glass that is unadorned. It should not be colored or etched. The idea is that the glass should showcase the color of the wine and not be an end in itself. Of course, simplicity has its own beauty and there is plenty of beautifully cut crystal stemware that looks fabulous without additional decoration. So save the etched Waterford for serving water at the table.Lead crystal is generally preferred, but since crystal is more fragile than glass, there are practical considerations. For everyday drinking and raucous parties, stick to regular glassware and leave the crystal in the display cabinet. Feel free to break this rule if you really enjoy the crystal and you aren't clumsy *g*
Riedel Wineglasses or Spiegelau?
Riedel wineglasses are generally touted by most wine critics as the best stemware to bring out the intricacies and flavor of your wine, but since it was the Reidel company who came up with the notion of the wineglass making such a big difference in the first place... well, you get where I'm going.
Extremely successful marketing campaign or God's honest truth?
I was lucky enough to buy a pair of Riedel wine glasses at a Christmas Tree Store at a really great price, but... I only have one of those glasses now. I managed to break the other one in the sink. They are very nice glasses and I was happy to have them and I still enjoy the remaining glass, but to be honest I can't tell much difference between the Riedel or the Spiegelau glassware I bought to replace them. Oh, I got those glasses at the Christmas Tree store too, but other places to check for bargains are TJ Maxx and Marshall's.
For the most part, I would rather spend my money on the wine than the container so I stick to less expensive glassware, but I do find it important to drink out of the right style of glass. Spending less money lets me buy more glassware and it means I don't have to feel so guilty when I break one. This is important when you are as clumsy as I am! It enhances my enjoyment of whatever I am drinking, that goes for cocktails as well as wine.
Riedel Stemware - Red Wine
This is the nice pair of Riedel stemware I had for red wine. I recommend washing by hand and being careful how you stack them in the drying rack.
What's all the Riedel Fuss?
- This Glass Is for the Cabernet, That One the Pinot Noir
Fun NYT article on selecting the right wine glass and Reidel's impact on the industry.
- Wine of the Week - Are Real Riedel Glasses for Real?
Wine of the Week is a Webzine for wine and food lovers. Are Real Riedel Glasses for Real? by Murray Almond 25 Nov 2001