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How to pair wine with the right glasses

Like a good relationship, compatibility between wine and the glass in which it’s served is of utmost importance. It’s a pairing that not only delights the taste buds, but also pleases the senses of smell, sight and touch. When wine is coupled with a glass possessing a complementary size and shape, it surpasses merely being a drink, and is transformed into a feast for the senses.

Plastic is not fantastic

Just because a vessel holds liquid, it doesn’t mean it’s suited to holding wine. A plastic cup will simply not deliver a wine’s nuances as well as glassware does. A glass is a vital component of wine appreciation because it impacts how you perceive the liquid’s aroma, color and taste. There are numerous wallet-friendly choices available, so you can find glasses that fit your budget, while also providing aesthetic appeal.

Size matters

Generally, seek clear crystal possessing large, thin-rimmed bowls that are somewhat tapered at the top, feel balanced in your hand and hold 10 to 18 ounces of liquid. The clearer the glass, the more luxuriant your wine’s color will appear. Select a glass with a thin rim so that the glass doesn’t distract you from the wine as you imbibe. A large bowl with a narrow opening will help amplify the wine’s scents, while supplying sufficient space for the aromas to expand, but slight area for them to escape.

The sizes and shapes of wineglass bowls influence the intensity and intricacy of aromas, while the shapes of the rims ascertain where the wine first hits the tongue, which establishes the initial perception of its taste.

Hand-blown glass is usually thinner, particularly at the rim, and has better balance than machine-made glass. If you’re walking a thin line between beauty and affordability, you can find numerous attractive, durable combination wine glasses with hand-blown bowls and machine-made stems and bases.

Stems or no stems

Traditionally, wine glasses are created with stems so your hand doesn’t come in contact with the bowl, which could cloud the glass with fingerprints or warm the wine beyond the ideal serving temperature. However, stemless glasses are popular because they’re dishwasher-friendly, easier to store if you have space limitations, and have less of a tendency to break minus the delicate stems.

They can look either modern and elegant, or chic and informal, and are very practical for avoiding spills. They’re great for casual wine drinkers, and not necessarily for connoisseurs. Set these glasses down often, so that your body temperature will affect the wine as little as possible.

Red wine glassware

Typically, red wine glasses have larger bowls and wider openings than white wine glasses. The more generous the opening, the easier it is for the wine to breathe and release its aroma. For still wine, select plain glasses minus designs or colors that detract from appreciating the appearance of the liquid. According to wine expert Joanna Simon, the glass should be able to contain a quarter bottle of wine, or be filled from approximately a third to one-half of the glass.

When selecting your red wine glasses, there are two styles available: Bordeaux or Burgundy. The Bordeaux wine glass is tall, has a deep bowl with tapered sides and a flat rim. The glass’ height and wider top permit more oxygen to filter in, which is perfect for higher alcohol-content wines that need plenty of swirling and room to breathe. The Bordeaux wine glass is designed for savoring the wine’s rich aromas, and for transporting bold, potent reds to the center of the palate. It also accentuates the wine’s balance of fruit and acidity, while toning down the tannins. The complexity of wines such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and of course, Bordeaux, can be fully enjoyed in this glass.

The Burgundy wine glass was created to unveil the delicacy of wines acquired from Pinot Noir grapes. With a wider bowl comes more aeration and opportunity for the aromas to gather. Inward-tapering sides guide the perfumed bouquet and complexity to the nose. The glass’ rolled rim assists in directing these sweet wines to the tip of the tongue.

White wine glassware

Also referred to as the Chardonnay wine glass, the white wine glass is like a miniature version of the Bordeaux glass, with a narrower bowl and rim. Since white wines are more delicate than reds, smaller glasses permit their lighter, fruitier aromas to access the nose. This glass’ design also helps keep white wines chilled longer.

Champagne and sparkling wine glassware

A new trend is arising among quaffers of champagne and sparkling wine. They’re swapping the traditional narrower cylindrical flute for one that is tulip-shaped. Slightly wider in the middle, it tapers to a narrower top. For some connoisseurs, the effervescence from the traditional flute could be somewhat overwhelming, whereas the new design permits sippers to distinguish more aroma and flavor. It also has been touted as allowing the drink to be more easily digested.

Dessert wine glassware

Since dessert wines are very sweet and usually not consumed in large quantities, stemware that is only about 6 inches high is required. Sherry glasses appear to be similar to champagne flutes, and the Port glass has a wider bowl gracefully tapering to the rim. Dessert wine glassware has more flexibility of usage – it can be utilized interchangeably among aperitifs – so incorporate whatever style appeals to your particular taste.

Glassware for wine tasting events

For a wine tasting party, select small, inexpensive glasses, from a store such as Crate & Barrel, since you’ll need many, and it’s likely that some will accidentally be broken by guests. Small tasting glasses are ideal, especially if numerous wines will be served either at one time, or over the course of the evening. They’re a snap to clean, and you can fit more in front of each of your guests. Additionally, tasting pours are smaller, so each guest can imbibe more wines without needing to be carried out the door. Conversely, a small pour in a large glass can get lost, and it can be difficult to determine exactly how much wine has been consumed.

Dishwasher-proof wine glasses

These trump hand-wash-only wine glasses for both cleanliness and convenience. For glasses that aren’t greasy, wash in the shortest cycle sans detergent. If you have dirtier glasses, use a bit of detergent, but no rinsing aid. At the end of the cycle, open the door to allow the glasses to air dry without humidity. If you do hand wash, use hot water and minimal detergent. And if you prefer crystal glasses, prepare for them to be more high-maintenance, since they are very fragile and can only be washed by hand.

Now that you know how to get the utmost enjoyment from your wines with the perfect pour and vessel for each variety, your glass will always be half-full, and never half-empty.