Which Glass? Why the Shape Matters

glasses.jpgIf you’ve paid a visit to your local Costco store lately, you may have come face to face with a giant wine glass that stands nearly 4 feet tall.

That is NOT the size or shape of wine glasses we’re talking about here. The Costco glass is a conversation piece. The (much) smaller glasses we use to drink wine perform an important function: making the wine in them smell and taste as good as possible.

Wine glasses are produced in many different shapes, and some would tell you that each shape is designed with a specific variety of wine in mind. Glass-maker Riedel even conducts tasting seminars to prove the point.

While some would argue that their contention is based more on theory than scientific fact, I’ve personally attended several of the seminars and believe subtle differences can be detected in a given wine when served side-by-side in glasses of different shapes.

That said, I honestly believe one could get by with three or possibly four wine glasses and never feel cheated about experiencing any given wine to its fullest. With that in mind, it’s good to have on hand:

* A Bordeaux glass. Tall with a broad bowl, this is the type of glass most restaurants use. It’s intended for big, bold red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon or (red) Zinfandel, as it helps direct the wine to the back of one’s mouth, thus avoiding most of the harsh tannins that may be present. Of all the wine glass shapes, it is perhaps the most versatile.

* A Chardonnay glass. For use with white wines, it has a smaller mouth to help preserve the crisp, clean flavors of many different white varieties.

* A Champagne flute. A long stem topped with a long, narrow bowl that’s designed to accommodate and showcase the bubbles associated with sparkling wines.

And if you’d like to add a fourth type, go with a Burgundy glass, which has a wider bowl than the Bordeaux glass to showcase the delicate aromas and flavors of wines such as Pinot Noir.

You could spend a lot of money on a set of a dozen or even a dozen-and-a-half different shapes of wine glasses, or you could stick with three or four shapes and spend the money you save on what goes in those glasses.

The choice is yours.

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Posted in Wine Buzz

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