How to choose wine glasses

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The wine glass you choose really makes a difference to your wine-tasting experience, so if you enjoy wine regularly, it’s worth investing in specialist red and wine glasses.

Aerating the wine: Choose a wine glass with a balloon base so there is enough room to swirl the wine to aerate it. It helps to amplify the aromas. This is true for both white and red wines. The high-end Bavarian Glass maker Speigelau has developed a stemless range for wine that is more suited to swirling. Riedel have also introduced a range called Swirl, which are fancy stemless tumblers for both red and white wine. Handy for anyone who hasn’t room in their cupboards for stem glasses. Though, in our humble opinion, a white wine glass should have a stem – cupping your hands around the bowl of the glass can heat the wine (fine for red, not good for chilled whites) so we’re unlikely to be investing a casual swirl glass anytime soon. There’s not much point in chilling a wine in the bottle only to reheat it in the glass.

– Traditionalists will scoff at any glass that can be washed in the dishwasher – you really shouldn’t wash your wine glasses in anything other than hot water because, experts tell us, it can take up to 9 subsequent water washes to remove the dishwashing chemicals and it affects your ability to see the ‘legs’ of a wine. (‘Legs’ are the viscous drips you see on the inside of the glass that tell you how much alcohol is in the wine – though reading the label is a more accurate indicator). So depending on how much of a purist you are, choose a glass that can be washed in the dishwasher if convenience is more important to you.

– The thicker the glass, the less you will taste the wine. Try it at home: pour your favourite wine into a thick cut glass brandy tumbler, and taste it against a glass of wine from a thin-lipped finer wine glass. It makes all the difference. So choose thin glass if you want to experience wine, rather than just drinking it, but hand-wash them only as they break easily.

You need a smaller glass for white wine and a larger glass for red wine. A white wine needs aeration, certainly, but it also needs to remain cool. If the glass is too large, the wine will lose its chill more quickly. A red wine glass needs a larger more generous bowl so that the wine can aerate, allowing for the fullness of the wine to emerge.

– If you have the money and drink a particular varietal often, you may want to invest in a fit-for-purpose wine glass. Riedel sell wine glasses based on a wine’s DNA: from one especially for Burgundy Grand Cru (if you can afford the wine, you can probably afford the specific glass to go with) to another suited to oaked Chardonnay (if there is anyone left still drinking it who hasn’t turned to Sauvignon Blanc). Their website is a bit clunky but it’s worth a visit to see the sheer number of types of wine glass they have created.


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