It may surprise you to know that the size and shape of a wine glass can enhance the enjoyment of a wine by improving aromas, flavours, and feel of the wine. This article will discuss why wine glass shape matters and how it can affect the tasting experience.
Not Just Any Wine Glass Will Do
Of course, a great wine can be enjoyed anywhere and anytime, but dedicated enophiles give serious consideration to the glass they use to enjoy their wine.
According to Georg Riedel, a wine glass is designed to be a tasting tool to balance the flavours and structural elements of a wine. This is achieved by the varying designs of the following three parameters of a glass: the size, shape and the opening.
For example, if you are drinking a full-bodied white wine such as Viognier, choosing a glass with a larger bowl will make the wine taste better than in a smaller glass. Likewise, Champagne, though usually poured into a flute to keep the bubbles in suspension longer, is generally better from a tulip shaped glass.
Subtle differences in glass design can also change how we experience a wine’s complete nature. When choosing a wine glass for your next tasting, take into consideration the reasons behind wine glass shapes and the impact that it has on your wine.
Wine Glass Shape: The Science Behind It
At its most basic level, a wine glass is a vessel in which to hold wine. However, there is a science behind different wine glass shapes. The role of physics plays heavily in the design of glassware. This is evident in the varying designs of two components; the bowl and the opening.
The process of aeration is a well-known part of the wine tasting experience. Once a wine reacts with the air, a wine taster will notice how the nose, body and structural components of a wine evolve depending on the chosen glassware. The bowl of a wine glass is designed with this process in mind.
A larger bowl allows for more air exposure which better releases the volatile aromatic compounds in a wine and also softens tannins.
However, a smaller bowl keeps white wine cooler for longer and gives the acidity and freshness more focus.
Choosing The Perfect Bowl
Most white wines have lighter and fresher flavours and, for this reason, less aeration is required. This is why a smaller bowl is often the perfect choice for a white wine. The smaller bowl and long stem of white wine glasses will prevent too much air from circulating in the wine and prevents our body heat from affecting the temperature of the wine. However, it is important to keep in mind that fuller-bodied white wines such as an oaked chardonnay benefit from more aeration. In this case, a larger bowl is better.
Due to their more complex flavours and need for more aeration, a red wine glass is designed with a much larger bowl. If you are tasting a bolder red, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon, consider using a large Bordeaux red wine glass. The wider opening softens the tannins and gives the wine a softer a creamier feel. For a medium-bodied red, such as a Merlot, the standard red wine glass shape is ideal, because the tannins are already fairly soft and plush. They don’t need a glass to soften them further. When tasting a more delicate red wine such as a Pinot Noir, a Burgundy glass is recommended as its rounder and bigger bowl provides maximum air exposure to release their delicate perfumes.
Your Glass Should Elevate Your Wine
A good bottle of wine deserves to be tasted in a glass that will enhance its best features. When choosing a wine glass for your next bottle, give due consideration to the bowl shape and the size of the opening to best express the wine you are drinking.