Wine is more than just a drink. It’s an experience — and the glass you partake from affects the taste.
There’s something iconic about the image of wine being poured from a long-neck bottle into a stemmed glass. Have you ever wondered why? Wouldn’t wine taste the same from a paper cup or a solid gold goblet?
While this could be said for some beverages (2% milk, for example, tastes the same from a mug or a champagne flute), wine is an exception. Stemware has been designed to enhance the flavor of wine for hundreds of years.
How exactly is it done? Wine glass designer Riedel takes a three-stemmed approach to its collections.
The three major parameters Riedel uses for wine glasses are size, shape and opening; and each design serves a specific purpose:
– The size of a glass controls how much air comes into contact with the wine.
– The shape determines how the liquid flows to the lip and opening.
– The rim diameter controls how fast the wine flows through the glass AND how it’s delivered to the drinker’s palate.
Sound like a complicated process? There’s a method to this madness. Scientists at the Institute of Biomaterials and Bioengineering at Tokyo Medical and Dental University recently performed experiments that proved stemware helps intensify the ethanol vapor found in wine. When comparing the levels of ethanol vapor in wine contained in stemware, a straight glass and a cocktail glass, the stemware created a heightened wine-drinking experience.
Let’s turn things up a notch and ask a more complicated question: Are some wine glasses made specifically for different types of wine?
True fans of wine seek out certain types of stemware to go with specific wines. For instance, red wine stemware differs from white wine stemware. Red wine glasses typically have larger bowls to help release the aroma, and the base of the bowl is meant to be cradled between two fingers.
White wine needs less oxygen, so the bowl of the glass is more tapered and the rim narrower. These glasses are traditionally held by the stem. How a glass is held affects the temperature of the wine. When the hand cups the bowl of a red wine glass, the wine gets warmer and releases ethanol vapor.
Other specialized types of glasses include flutes for sparkling wine or small, gently tapered glasses for dessert wines. For those who are truly invested in a heightened wine experience, some glasses are custom designed for particular varietals or vintages.
As you travel further into the world of wine, you will become more and more familiar with the many factors that contribute to making each and every tasting experience the best it can be.
Enjoy the journey!
The Cork Stop