How to choose the right wine glass

Posted by admin | August 19, 2020 | Blog

Quick read summary

  • Wine glass size and shape does make a difference to how you experience wine
  • Larger, broader glasses are best for red wines – they help you experience the flavors and aromas, especially for complex grapes like Pinot Noir
  • Smaller-bowled glasses should be used for white wines to concentrate flavors – unless the wine is a very strong or oaked white
  • The best glasses for sparkling wines are flutes – tall and slim. Beware not to go too narrow though and prevent the aromas from reaching your nose
  • The rim of a wine glass affects how quickly the wine enters your mouth – try a smaller rim for harsh for acidic wines
  • Many ranges of glassware include the so-called ‘universal’ wine glass – it’s an all-rounder to be used for any type of wine, but some argue it isn’t as good as specific glass types for each type of wine
  • Other things to consider when choosing your glass include the type of glass it’s made from (leaded or unleaded), and whether it’s dishwasher-safe

If you’re serious about your wine (and if you’re reading this then you probably are), then you’ll want to give some thought to choosing your wine glass too. Its size and shape can make an appreciable difference to the whole drinking experience, so make yourself aware of the different types, and the science behind them. Remember that there are three main parts to a glass: the bowl, the stem and the base. They all affect the wine you drink in different ways, as we’ll see, and this is especially important in Burgundy. Here, wines demand the time and space that a good glass provides, to allow them to tell their story. 

Choosing the right red wine glass

If you’re going to be enjoying rich, complex and full-flavored red wines, like those in Elden Selection’s range, then your glass should be bigger and wider than for sparkling or white wines. Why? Because a wider ‘bowl’ allows the bolder and more pronounced flavors of red wine to reach your nose, and aerates the wine as you sip it. 

Of course, there are many different wide-bowl glasses – some with stems and some without. Don’t discount simple personal preference, either – the best glass is usually the one that you prefer and enjoy drinking out of the most. But remember that the temperature of your wine will affect its flavor and holding a stemless wine bowl will mean warmer wine. It’s also less likely to be knocked over, it there are children or pets nearby. On which note – think about where you’re going to be serving the wine – if it’s outside and casual, then stemless might be the more informal choice. 

The more air you mix with your red wine, or any wine for that matter, then the smoother it will taste. Likewise, the greater the space between wine and nose, the better you will be able to pick out and appreciate aromas. You could get very specific with glasses for each type of grape– for example, Burgundy wines have very subtle and varied aromas, so larger bowls help to collect these, and a Pinot Noir glass that some experts recommend has the biggest bowl of any red wine glass.

Best glasses for white wines?

If white wines are more your thing, you’ll want a smaller-bowled glass. This is because it will concentrate the aromas, which in white wines tend to be more subtle. It will also decrease the surface area of glass in contact with the wine, keeping it cooler – better for whites than reds. There is always an exception to the rule though – in Burgundy, a particularly strong, oak-aged Chardonnay for example could be enhanced by a glass with a large bowl. Examples of glasses suited to this task include the Montrachet glass by Riedel, whose wider mouth can emphasize certain characteristics of bold Chardonnays, like the creamy mouthfeel. 

What to drink sparkling wine from

A third type of glass is needed for sparkling wines, one that is smaller and narrower still – the flute. This will stop the carbonation (bubbles) from dissipating too quickly from your wine. Fruity flavors are concentrated by the narrow mouth, but the wine remains effervescent. Be careful not to go too narrow, though – you’ll risk keeping too much aroma in the glass. Another advantage of tall, thin glasses is that they accentuate the flow of the bubbles, allowing them to pleasingly trail their way upwards to the mouth of the glass. 

Wine glass rims are important too

The rim of a glass also plays its part in shaping the taste and mouthfeel of wine. Choose a thicker-rimmed glass for wines which you want to experience more slowly, or for those with more subtle flavors. Higher rims slow the wine down as it enters your mouth, giving you more time to discern each flavor. But if a wine is more acidic or a bit on the harsh, tannic side, then a thin rim may be the way to go. Some rims are slightly turned-out, directing the wine to your nose and mouth more quickly, or to the areas of the mouth which, for example, pick up sweet flavors first. If your glass is made of leaded-crystal then it can be made thinner than other glasses and with no lip at all in some cases, giving a much smoother drinking experience. 

A universal wine glass?

Is there such a thing as a ‘universal’ wine glass? Yes, indeed there is. Most ranges of wine glasses now include one which is designed to be able to accommodate all types of wine – even sparkling. Not too narrow, and not too wide, they are the ‘Goldilocks’ of the wine glass world. 

Other considerations about glasses

You may not think about the type of glass – only the shape and size – but it can make a difference too. Crystal (lead-free) can help the light to refract through the glass and the wine, showing off the colors beautifully. Be careful with leaded-crystal though, which can become cloudy through repeated washing. And it goes without saying that to really appreciate the subtle hues of your wine, only a clear glass will do, however nice colored glass might look. Finally, whether the wine glass is dishwasher-safe or not will matter to some people more than others, but dishwashers can create marks or frosting on glass, so handwashing is usually safest.