More than a glass…
Question from Claire: Does the wine glass really make a different?
In a nut shell: Absolutely! The more surface area of wine that comes in contact with oxygen the better. There are always exceptions (like for super old wines which don’t like much oxygen) but put simply, that’s your answer… absolutely.
In a clam shell: If it’s a cheap bottle of wine a mug is perfectly fine. What you taste is what you get and it’s probably not going to get any better with the assistance of the right glass but if it’s a decent bottle and you want to smell and taste all that it has to offer go with the right glass.
So what exactly does a fancy pants wine glass do? Can you try a little experiment for me? Pleeeeaaaase! Grab a mug and a fancy wine glass. Poor a little wine into both glasses and taste the difference. The wine in the wine glass will have more flavour – absolutely guaranteed! And you’ll be able to smell recognisable fruits rather than alcohol. Go on, give it a go! It’s a good excuse to have two glasses of wine.
So firstly, let’s talk about surface area. The wider the glass the better. That’s because more oxygen is in contact with the wine, which will soften harsh tannins (that mouth drying feeling you got from a swig of Cabernet Sauvignon) and open up the wine, releasing more delish smells and leading to more complex flavours.
And believe it or not, swirling the wine isn’t just for wine wankers. It aerates the wine (just like decanting it does) and allows more of the wine to come in contact with oxygen, again releasing yummy aromas and flavours. So go on. Have a good swirl!
Picking the right glass is pretty damn simple. Make sure it’s wide and when you fill the glass pour the wine to its widest part. When it starts tapering in stop pouring. You can always go back for more later. This ensures that there is plenty of space between the wine and the top of the glass. Why on earth would you want to do that? The empty area of the glass traps aromas inside allowing you, again, to smell and taste more of those delicious fruit flavours and complexities. If you fill the glass to the top you lose that marvelous aroma collector. Hence why fancy wine glasses flute in at the top, to collect all that winey goodness.
So here are the rules:
- You want a wide glass.
- You only want to fill your wine to the widest part of the glass.
- You want plenty of room between the wine and the top of the glass.
White wine glasses are smaller than red wine glasses because generally their flavours aren’t as complex and there are no harsh tannins to soften. They’re also a little smaller to keep the wine colder for longer. But you can absolutely use a red wine glass when drinking a white wine. I do!
If you’re keen to invest in some good wine glasses get a set (generally six) of red wine glasses and a set of champagne flutes. And you’re done! I’m a huge fan of Riedel glassware. They’re just divine! Perhaps a birthday present?!? And Plumm make some fab wine glasses too!
Oh and one last thing. If you’re prone to breaking wine glasses (aren’t we all?) why not go for steamless wine glasses. It doesn’t change the wine inside at all. The only disadvantage is that you’re wine will heat up a little quicker because of the temperature of your fingers. But who a) takes that long to drink a glass of wine and b) holds their glass by the steam anyway?