Have you ever stopped and thought about how wine glasses impact the flavor and the aromatics and the general enjoyment of the wine that you drink? Probably not. I think we’ve all been in a situation where we’ve walked into a home store and seen glasses that were so beautiful or cute or just fit our mood. We bought them without a lot of consideration to the impact it actually had on the enjoyment of wine.
Learn how wine glasses really do impact the enjoyment of a glass of wine.
Today, we’re going to talk about getting a little more serious about your stemware choices. After all, that is why we are here. Wine drinking is all about enjoyment. Let’s make it the best experience we possibly can.
I’ve got an assortment of three different wine glasses that I keep at my house. Keep in mind that I’m a professional winemaker, so this is a really big emphasis for me. This is more than I would suggest you have in your house unless you just want to go crazy and you have a ton of storage space. That probably isn’t the case because who does!
Let’s talk about the two major things that impact wine and why you choose the kind of stemware that you do.
The first is aromatics.
This is a big thing. We know the way that wine smells actually impacts the way that it tastes to us. What you want to look for always, this is absolute, is a wine glass that has a tulip shape. These come in a couple of different varieties. What you’re really looking for is this vessel that can contain aromatics and deliver them to you in a way that highlights the character of the wine.
The second thing that we want to be concerned about is delivery.
That may seem like a totally funny thing to think about. The first time I heard that I thought, “Oh what does that even mean?” It’s a term you’ll hear again. It comes down to how when you drink the glass of wine it’s delivered onto your tongue and the impact that it has when it hits your taste buds. Those are the two things that you want to be concerned about.
If you’ve ever looked at companies like a Riedl or Spiegelau, they make a gazillion different types of glasses.
Glasses for drinking chardonnay that’s oaked and then glasses for unoaked chardonnay. There are glasses for pinot noir, glasses for syrah, and glasses for Bordeaux. It goes on and on and on like that. You could go down that crazy path of having all that stemware if you wanted to.
The truth of it is if you drink those varieties out of those glasses there probably is something to it. It will accentuate the wine and make it taste better. That’s a huge investment and a very specific thing to get the most impact out of every single varietal. I would never go down that path personally.
I mostly drink and make Bordeaux and Rhone varietals. I also drink a lot of white wine because I’m a white winemaker. What I have at my home, and my recommendation for you for the best all-around wine glass that suits my desires is something like the Reidl Magnum. This is a Bordeaux style glass. I love it because I love the shape, I love the way that it feels in my hand, I love that the stem is large enough that my hand doesn’t make contact with the wine, so I’m not heating the wine in my hand. It’s not so tall that it makes the glass unstable.
The other thing that I love about all fine glassware, something that is a deal breaker for me, is how thin the rim is.
I always look for a wine glass that has a very, very, thin rim. I hate stemware and you should too, that has a chunky, thick rim. A thicker rim makes a glass more durable, but that isn’t my primary concern. Those beefy wine glasses are oftentimes the kind of stemware that you see in all sorts of shapes but particularly popular with stemless glasses.
You can find thin-rimmed glasses and you should because once again we talked about it’s all about that delivery and how the wine feels when it goes into your mouth. A thin rim will help with delivery, and frankly, it’s just a lot more enjoyable experience. A thin rim is paramount. Trust me on that thin rim.
These are the wine glasses that I would purchase for my home and that I’ve been using for the last 15 years. I like it because it can adequately contain the aromatics and acidity of white wine. It also crosses over really nicely to the majority of red wines that I drink.
The second recommendation I have here is a stemless glass. The one thing to consider here, which I touched on just a little bit earlier, is how your hand will be coming in contact with the wine in this glass. That’s a downside if you’re tasting critically. At home, I think this is a wonderful glass for out on your patio or for sitting down and having a glass of wine and reading a book at night.
I love how a stemless glass feels in my hand so I don’t take into consideration when I’m having a glass of wine just for my own enjoyment at home how the temperature of my body will impact the temperature of the wine. It’s just not something I get super worried about because I’m not tasting these wines critically.
What I’ve done at home is I’ve got this glass that I’ve recommended, and then I recently acquired a set of Riedl pinot noir wine glasses that are stemless. I do like to have a stemless glass, and I started out making and working in the Willamette Valley with Pinot Noir, so Pinot is really near and dear to my heart. When I was adding a second glass, I thought I’m going to get something that I can use to accentuate that one varietal a little bit more.
What you find with this glass is that’s a little bit larger, broader bowl and that helps with pinot noir. It’s a softer wine with less tannin so I don’t need a glass that is working to dissipate or change the structure of tannin like the stemmed magnum glass would. I choose a glass for Pinot that’s a little bit better for wines that are soft.
Between the two, you could go either way. It all comes down to whether or not you enjoy a stemless glass or a glass with a stem.
It really doesn’t matter, but when you’re choosing a wine glass, it’s critically important that you’re wanting something that has a really thin rim. That is an absolute deal breaker. Please do not buy stemware that has a chunky rim. It just isn’t going to deliver wine to you in a way that is enjoyable and appealing. It’s just such a luxury to drink out of really lovely stemware, so give yourself that opportunity.
The only other glass that I have in my house is a champagne flute.
This isn’t something that I would recommend unless you drink a lot of bubbly. If you do, it’s really nice. The narrower stem helps preserve the bubbles that keep them sparkling a lot longer. It has a very thin rim which is excellent for the delivery of sparkling wines. If you’re thinking about a champagne flute and you don’t have that yet, the same rules apply. Tulip shape and a thin rim make a great sparkling glass.
I’ve got a recommendation sheet for you. It lists some of the different wine glasses that you could choose to purchase. I want to make it super easy so you don’t have to go out and do a bunch of research and break down the things that I’ve said to figure out what to put in your home.
If you want to learn even more, check out our masterclass Wired for Wine. In this class, you will learn everything that you need to know to become an expert wine taster.