Wine Glasses - Stemware

Choosing the right types of wine glasses is necessary in order to completely enjoy a certain type of wine. Many different styles exist in varying degrees of quality, ranging from expensive crystal to cheap stemware. Though the choice of wine glass is purely based upon individual preferences, wine experts have advised the use of certain stemware. This report will examine these types of wine stemware and discuss their attributes, relating to the flavor of wine they are meant to be used with. This will be accomplished through the use of the following sections:

1. Choosing types of Wine Glasses
2. Using a Wine Glass
3. White Wine
3.1.1. Chardonnay
3.1.2. Riesling
3.1.3. Sauvignon Blanc
4. Red Wine
4.1.1. Merlot
4.1.2. Pinot Noir
4.1.3. Shiraz
5. Port
6. Dessert/Ice Wines
7. Champagne/Sparkling Wines
8. Wine Glass Temperatures
9. Washing your Wine Glasses
9.1.1. Rinsing
9.1.2. Washing
9.1.3. Cleaning/Baking Soda
9.1.4. Dishwasher
10. Storing your Wine Glasses
11. Proper Tasting Technique

Choosing Wine Glasses

When choosing a wine glass, regardless of the type of wine, pay close attention to the material from which it is made. Make sure the glass is plain and clear. Dyed/frosted glass will not allow for an appreciation of the wine’s color, which can tell the drinker how old the wine is, what types of grapes were used, and so on. Crystal glasses, unless of the finest quality, can distort or skew the view of the wine, and should be used only by more experienced drinkers.

Next, choose a glass with a large enough bowl. It should be of sufficient size to allow for a generous pour and still leave plenty of room for swirling, which releases the aromas from the wine. The shape of the bowl is also important. It should taper in near the top and have a wide base. This concentrates the aromas and directs them upwards after a good swirl.

Most importantly, the glass should have a stem, no matter if it is for white or red wine. The bowls on glasses without much of a stem tend to get covered in greasy fingerprints, which disrupt the inspection of the wine.

Using a Wine Glass

Every expert agrees that a wine glass should be held by the stem only, whether it is for red or white wines. Not only will this deter the appearance of fingerprints, as discussed above, but it will help to ensure that the wine stays at its desired temperature. If the glass is held by the bowl, body heat will transfer from the palm into the wine, warming it at a consistent rate. If the wine reaches a temperature of 24 degrees Celsius or above, the alcohol present in the wine will give a sharp ‘bite’ to the taste.

White Wine

Because of the serving size (3 oz.), glasses crafted for white wine tend to have a smaller bowl then red wine glasses. It is not uncommon to find that white wine glasses have a longer stem and smaller base then their red counterparts. This section will examine three different types of white wine glasses.

Chardonnay

Chardonnay glasses have a wide bowl and a slightly tapered top. The volume can be anywhere from 5 – 7 ounces, leaving plenty of room for swirling and sipping. Possessing a longer stem, Chardonnay glasses are focused on keeping the wine as cool as possible



Riesling

Narrower and taller than Chardonnay glasses, Riesling glasses are made to concentrate the fruity aromas in the upper portion of the glass. The volume ranges from 6 – 7 ounces, and a longer stem keeps the wine chilled; the sweet nature of Riesling calls for a cool serving.


Sauvignon Blanc

The perfect Sauvignon Blanc glass is tall and slim, offering the freshness and aromas of the wine on the nose. The glass has a long stem and narrow bowl, slightly tapered at the top. The volume ranges from 5 – 6 ounces.



Red Wines

Red wine glasses have a much larger bowl and tend to be wider than white wine glasses. This is because of the serving size (4 – 5 ounces) and the strong aromas and flavors associated with red wines; more space for the wine to breathe results in a wider bouquet and a more pleasurable experience. The opening of the glass is wider as well, allowing the drinker to get a good whiff of the bouquet. Three of the more popular red wines glasses will be examined here.

Merlot

Merlot glasses have a large bowl with a slightly tapered top. The volume of the bowl typically reaches 30 ounces, leaving lots of room for swirling and bouquets. The stem is of average length, and the base is wider than other red wine glasses.



Pinot Noir Wine

Because Pinot Noir is a fruity wine, it is common to find quality glasses with the rim turned out to direct the intense flavors immediately to the palette. The bowl of the pinot noir wine glass is wide and large, having a 35 ounce capacity and a tapered top. The stem is shorter than other red wine glasses.




Shiraz/Syrah

Glasses made for Shiraz and syrah tend to be smaller than other red wine varieties. The bowl generally has a 20 ounce capacity and is severely tapered inwards. The glass has a mid-size stem and wide base. The shape of the bowl is intended to first present the fruit aromas, followed by the tannin flavors.



Port

Due to the sugars, high level of alcohol and intense taste of port, the port glass is finely tuned. Having a volume of 8 – 9 ounces, the shape is small and slender. This style helps to mask the overwhelming alcohol odors emitted and instead focuses the bouquet on the subtle oak, blackcurrant and pepper prevalent in good port wine.




Dessert and Ice Wines

Ice wines and other sweet wines require a specialized glass. The volume ranges from 11 – 13 ounces and the bowl is highly tapered. The shape of the bowl allows for a generous swirl, while still maintaining ideal wine to air ratios. As well, the ice wine glass design succeeds in accentuating the acidity of the wine, balancing the overwhelming sweetness.




Champagne/Sparkling Wines

Champagne and sparkling wine are served in glasses called flutes. The flute is a tall, slender glass designed to concentrate the bubbles of a liquid on the tip of the tongue. The shape conveys the rich scent of Champagne immediately upon sipping. The volume of the bowl ranges from 6 – 8 ounces and the base is wide to provide stability.




Wine Glass Temperatures

Wine glasses should be served at roughly the same temperature that the wine itself will have. For white wines, the glass temperature should be between 8 – 10 degrees Celsius, light red wines around 14 degrees Celsius, and full bodied reds between 16 – 17 degrees Celsius. Try to avoid putting the glass in direct sunlight, as this will quickly alter the temperature.

These measurements are suggested temperatures, but if the wine is warmer than the glass, dew drops will form on the interior, thereby obstructing the view of the wine. Chill wine glasses appropriately to your tastes.

Washing your Wine Glasses

Though it may seem trivial, washing your wine glass properly is important to ensure that the wine is not tainted or skewed by water spots. There are numerous methods and recommendations on how to wash a wine glass, and this section will discuss the more practical ones.

Rinsing

As the name implies, this method involves simply rinsing the glass in hot water over and over again until all residual wine is gone. Do not dry with a towel or use a cloth. When finished, turn the glass over and rest it on a clean towel to air dry. If there are lipstick stains, gently rub your fingers over the dirty spot while running it under hot water until it squeaks and no lipstick is present.

For an extra shine, steam the rinsed wine glass over boiling water and then allow to air dry upside down on the towel.

Washing

Add one drop of very mild detergent to each glass you are washing and gently wash the glass with a clean cloth in warm water. Repeat this procedure until the wine stain is removed. Afterwards, rinse the glass repeatedly until absolutely no soap bubbles remain. Soap scum will taint the wine glass and interfere with the taste and aroma of your wine.

Cleaning/Baking Soda

This method is only generally used on crystal or expensive glass. Mix the cleaning soda in the glass with warm water and gently swirl it around. The soda will clean the glass and absorb any leftover wine stains. Though this method takes a little longer, the result will be a streak-free and flawless glass.

Dishwasher

Only to be used with shorter-stemmed and inexpensive wine glasses, the dishwasher is an efficient way to clean numerous glasses at once. Use a little less detergent than you normally would, and allow the dishwasher to complete the washing phase. Set the drying level to the lowest possible setting and allow the glasses to dry. When the drying phase is done, immediately remove the glasses and wipe them down with a clean towel. Any remaining stains should be removed using one of the previous methods.

Storing your Wine Glasses

Wine glasses should be kept in a separate location from other glasses and hung upside down. This ensures that the glasses are not chipped or damaged when retrieving them. Experts suggest having a wine glass rack built to the underside of a counter or bar, leaving them easily accessible.
On the rack, wine glasses should be spaced no less than Ό of an inch from the next glass.

Crystal wine glasses should be kept as far away from sources of odors as possible. This includes coffee makers, spice cupboards, and the like. Because crystal is more porous than glass, it can easily absorb foreign odors and then impart that odor to the wine.

Also, if there are smokers in the household, be sure that wine glasses are stored in a well ventilated area. Tobacco smoke attaches itself to most surfaces, and wine glasses are no exception. This can lead to a foul tasting wine.

Proper Tasting Techniques

Firstly, inspect the wine; it is best to view against a light colored background. The color of the wine will hint at its age; a darker red wine indicates youthfulness, while a fading red alludes to age. White wine will also fade with age.

Next, give the wine a gentle swirl in the glass. Swirling allows for more wine to come in contact with the air, which releases subtle aromas. At this point, take a strong whiff near the top of the wine glass. The scent of young wines will be strong and fruity, while mature wines will release secondary aromas of earth or wood.

Now, the actually tasting. A sip of wine should be taken into the mouth and held there; do not swallow right away. The aromas from the wine will permeate through the upper airway and through the nasal area. It is with these aromas that wine is truly tasted. Breathe in and out through the nose, or slurp some air in from the mouth to release more aromas.

The wine will change as it is held in the mouth. First impressions are referred to as the fore palate, followed by the mid and end palate. Each stage will convey subtle flavors and scents.

The next step in tasting wine is to swallow a small amount. This conveys still more flavors to the palate and will leave a lingering taste in the mouth, which is referred to as the length; different wines will have different lengths, with the general rule stating that a longer length means a higher quality wine.

Lastly, spit out the remainder of the wine. This is especially important at wine-tasting functions to avoid inebriation.

Conclusion

Wine glasses are as important to a drinking experience as the wine itself. Without proper stemware, the subtleties and aromas of the wine are lost to the air. This report shows that the wine glass is a subjective instrument, adaptable for any type of wine.

*Pictures courtesy of www.riedel.com

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