Choosing wine glasses, also known as stemware, is easy with a little knowledge and understanding. The shape, size and color of a wine glass can dramatically affect your perception of the wine that’s contained in it.
The appeal of wine is not just in its taste and smell, but also in its visual aspect. The way light plays on the wine, the “legs” on the inside of the glass when you swirl the wine, and the way aromas are captured within the glass—and presented to your nose while drinking—are things to consider when learning how to choose wine glasses.
Wine glasses with larger, broader bowls are traditionally used for the big red wines, and narrower wine glasses are used to concentrate the more delicate bouquet of lighter white wines.
Champagne is best served in a tall slender flute. Visual enjoyment of the bead (bubbles) is enhanced by the height. The once popular shorter, bowl-style version of the Champagne glass doesn’t present the bead to best advantage or concentrate the aromas.
History Of Wine Glasses
Wine glasses have been used since ancient times. Pliny (23–79 A.D.) wrote of gold and silver drinking vessels being abandoned in favor of glass, which was frequently priced as highly as the precious metal versions. Bonifacio Veronese’s sixteenth-century ‘Last Supper’ includes modern style wine glasses with a stem and foot.
The oldest surviving European wine glasses with foot and stem are enameled goblets dated from the fifteenth-century. In Germany, towards the end of the sixteenth century sophisticated engraving was being applied to wine glasses.
The earliest known surviving English wine glasses are diamond-engraved glasses produced towards the end of the sixteenth-century by Verzelini. Plain straight stems became popular around 1740, with air twist stems being introduced around the same time. Ten years later a twist incised on the exterior of the stem gained popularity.
Quality crystal wine glasses were being produced in France by the end of the eighteenth century.
Choosing The Right Wine Glass
If your budget or available space limits you to one size of wine glass look for an all-purpose design that holds eight ounces. When budget and space permit, it is hard to go past Riedel Crystal stemware for full tasting pleasure. Riedel have created dozens of different wine glasses, each designed to bring out the best in a particular style of wine.
Do not feel intimidated by the range of stemware available … remember it is better to drink wine from a paper cup than not to drink wine at all! A simple and inexpensive ISO wine tasting glass readily available at your local wine outlet will do a marvelous job for tasting and drinking wine.
And, finally, when pouring wine do not fill the glass too full—one third to one half full at the most is all that is required. Leave room to capture the bouquet and evaluate and enjoy the color of the wine.
So discovering how to choose wine glasses is not complicated. It shouldn’t be about owning the most expensive glasses or having multiple types of glasses for different wine styles. Keep it simple, have fun and enjoy your wine.