Why the Type of Wine Glass You Use Matters
7 MIN READ
Tall and skinny. Wide and stout. Every shape in between.
Wine looks tasty no matter what type of glass you pour it in. But could your wine taste even better if it’s poured into the proper vessel?
Single-set glass owners — you might not like the answer.
Pouring your favorite wine into its preferred glass won’t just help it look more tantalizing. The right glass ensures a better temperature, oxidation, and ultimately, a better taste. How?
To answer that, we’ll have to dip our toes into the world of wine science.
Read on to learn all about why you should pay a little more attention to your glass on your next wine night.
Does Your Wine Glass Matter?
If you’re looking to get the most from your wine, then you want to maximize your glass. While enthusiasts have believed that glass matters for decades, new science is finally starting to back it up.
In a 2015 Japanese study, medical researchers recorded infrared images of ethanol vapors in different types of wine glasses. They showed that the shape of the glass heavily influences the position and density of vapors, affecting the nose and ultimate taste of the wine.
To put it simply, if you care about making the most of each sip, you have to care about these ethanol vapors. They transfer aromatic compounds into your nose, producing the majority of the flavors that make us fall head over heels with our favorite vino over and over again.
One of the main ways that glass shapes flavor is through oxidation. A glass with a larger bowl allows for increased interaction between wine and the air around it. Proper oxidation allows your wine to breathe, bringing out complex aromas that would otherwise be locked within the liquid.
That’s why many sommeliers recommend swirling before sniffing or tasting. The motion increases the surface area of the wine and coaxes the wine to interact with the air, amplifying the flavors of a full-bodied red and even bringing out the subtle nuances hidden with a lighter white.
Stemless vs Stemmed Wine Glasses
Who doesn’t love the look of a stemless wine glass? They’re simple, chic, and above all, easy to hold.
Unfortunately, these glasses might be negatively impacting your vino. While stemless glasses prioritize easy gripping, stemmed wine glasses help you maximize each sip of wine.
Stemmed wine glasses are designed to increase the distance between hand and bowl, reducing the transfer of body heat to your glass. If there’s one thing you want to avoid, it’s sipping wine that’s served too cold or too warm.
With stemless glasses, your favorite wine is bound to heat up much quicker than desired. This can cause white wines to taste overly acidic while red wines will reek of alcohol, overpowering the more complex aromas found within.
If you care about your wine’s proper serving temperature, it’s best to go with a long-stemmed glass.
Red Wine Glasses
Typically, red wine glasses are larger than white wine glasses to maximize oxidation and express the complex aromas found in each rich vino.
There are three main types of red wine glasses. Each is designed to achieve a slightly different level of oxidation depending on your chosen varietal.
Bordeaux glasses or full-bodied red wine glasses — these are are some of the largest wine glasses you can find. With wide bowls and broad openings, this glass maximizes surface area and oxidation. Best for rich, complex wines like Zinfandel, Petit Sira, or our Buena Vista Cabernet Sauvignon, these glasses accentuate the aromas found with full-bodied reds.
In sipping, the wide lip directs the wine over a large surface area. This encourages a more comprehensive taste to get in touch with all the sweet, bitter, and rich flavors on offer with a higher-tannin wine.
To amplify these full-bodied flavors further, be sure to use a decanter. This process separates sediments from each sip, removing bitterness and maximizing enjoyment.
Medium-bodied red wine glass — Great for old-world reds, these glasses have slightly smaller bowls and lips, designed to soften spicy flavors and trap ethanol vapors within the bowl for savory sniffing.
Light-bodied red wine or Burgundy glasses — Using a shorter, narrower lip, this design coaxes the wine onto the tip of the palate, best for tasting sweeter notes within your wine. This glass is best for when you’re in the mood for a lighter, sweeter red like a Syrah, Pinot Noir, or Nebbiolo.
If you’re only interested in one red wine glass set, go for medium-bodied glass with a wide bowl and a slightly narrower opening. This will allow for optimal oxidation while trapping the aromas inside for the best sniffing experience.
White Wine Glasses
Of course, white wines like to be served a little cooler than most reds. This is because the subtle aromas and delicate acidity found within whites need a cooler temperature to be appreciated.
To get closer to these subtle aromas, wine sniffers need to be able to place their nostrils closer to the surface, leading to smaller bowls positioned higher in the glass and more narrow openings.
There are two main varieties of white wine glasses:
- High-acid white wine glasses — petite and narrow, these glasses are best suited for lighter whites like Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Riesling, or Albariño. This shape brings the delightful crisp flavors of these wines right to the center of the palate, where our tongues are best attuned to appreciate the acidic qualities found within.
- Full-bodied white wine glasses — slightly larger and more shapely, these glasses have a slightly wider bowl bring in more air into the glass to bring the best out of full-bodied whites like Viognier or our Summer Blossom Chardonnay.
If you’re only interested in a single set for white wines, go for a high-acid white wine glass. The narrower opening will strike a larger contrast to a red wine glass, allowing you to more fully appreciate the differences between a crisp white and a rich red.
Fill Your Glass with the Wine Connoisseur
If you care about your wine, you have to care about your glass. While you might not need an entire wine glass rack lined with a dozen different sets, it’s definitely time to move on from those plastic wine glasses in your cupboard.
Once you’ve got the right glass, make sure to hone in on the best-serving temperature and oxidation for your favored varietal.
For stress-free sipping, try out a personal sommelier wine dispenser like the Wine Connoisseur. Expertly designed to optimize each glass, this aeration machine dials in every sip to perfection without any hassle on your part.
Be sure to browse our blog to learn more about your favorite vino and how the Wine Connoisseur can help you make each wine night better than the last.