Even though industry professionals may be familiar with how to navigate a glass cabinet, it can be difficult to choose the right glassware for your dinner party.
We spoke with Gabe Geller, the communications director at US importer Royal Wine. He gave us a detailed explanation on when to choose a balloon shape or tulip depending on the type of serve.
According to Geller, it’s all about physics. “The bowl of glass was designed with surface area as a consideration.”
Red wine glasses have a wider bowl than most other glasses. This allows you to place your nose in the glass and detect aromas.
Red wines require a greater surface area in order to soften and breathe.
Two important processes take place when wine and air interact: evaporation and oxidation. These processes can be altered to improve wine’s quality by allowing them to take place.
Red wines are more likely to be both more alcoholic and contain more volatile compounds. Volatile compounds can evaporate quickly in the air. These volatile compounds can be quickly dissipated by using a wine glass with a greater surface area. This allows the wine to have a more intense bouquet. Wine sulfites also disperse if it is allowed to breathe.
Second, oxygen exposure (or bartender apron) is critical to let the wine’s flavor and aroma shine through. This is especially true for wines that have been kept in the cellar for a while. These wines are subject to chemical reactions that create complex flavor profiles. These wines are sometimes described as being “closed” after the cork has been removed. Using a larger glass allows these compounds and wine to “open up.”
Geller stated that red wines need to breathe. Therefore, a larger, more round bowl with a wider opening is best for them.
There are many types of red wine glasses
It is generally accepted that red wines are better served in a larger glass. However, there are some red wines that can benefit from slight changes to the shape of the glass.
Wine glasses that are taller than normal allow the wine to flow to the back of your mouth. This allows for more bitter flavors to shine. The “Bordeaux” wine glass is tall and has a wide bowl. It is designed to be used with reds such as Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon.
The “Burgundy” glass has a larger bowl that can pick up aromas from delicate red wines like Pinot Noir. This glass directs the wine to the tip.
White wines don’t need to be as big as red wines for their aromas and flavors to come through.
The bowl will be more U-shaped than a red wine glasses, and it will allow the aromas to flow. A smaller bowl helps the wine retain its cooler temperature.
Young whites will benefit from a slightly larger glass opening that directs the wine towards the tip of the tongue. However, mature expressions should be served in taller glasses to allow the wine to reach the back and sides. This allows you to enjoy the richer, butterier, and more oaky flavors.
Roses can be served in white wine glasses, as they are made similarly to reds. However, roses see very little skin exposure than reds.
Geller says that there are glasses specifically made for roses, which have fruity, slightly sweeter flavors.
These glasses have shorter bowls, which are sometimes tapered or have a flared edge. He explained that the rim can affect how you drink. “The flair directs the wine to the tip of your tongue.”
It all depends on what you like when it comes to fizz. Cava and Prosecco with lighter flavors are often best suited for tall, narrow glasses (often called flutes), which capture carbon dioxide in sparkling wines to keep them bubbly.
If you enjoy complex fizz, especially if it has been bottle-fermented then a larger, white wine-style, the glass may be more suitable. This is because the flavor compounds can reach a larger surface area of oxygen and allow them to breathe, much like still wines.
It all comes down to personal taste. Every person is unique, so the benefits of wine glasses can vary.
Geller said that there’s no reason for you to believe you will ever be judged on your stemware. And you don’t need to be a professional sommelier in order to select the right glass.
He recommends that you choose a narrow glass with a wide bowl at the top. It should hold approximately 13 oz. Wine.
“A good universal wineglass is perfect for any occasion, from a summer Ramon Cardova Rosado to a vintage Bordeaux.”