How Important is a Glass?

Does a glass really matter? Essentially you could drink wine out of a Mason jar, plastic party cup or a coffee mug, right? But there must be a reason for the elegantly designed, thin stemmed glassware that is a wine glass.

Studies show that the shape of the glass adds to the sensation you experience while drinking wine. The thinner and clearer the glass, the easier it is to examine the color. I have seen wine glasses that are delicately etched, hand painted and solid brown (think circa 1972). To me, part of the experience of drinking wine is the color. If it is aged, how has the color changed from a younger version of the same grape? The light brick red color of Pinot Noir is a drastic difference from the dark eggplant color of a Syrah. A golden colored oaked Chardonnay looks stunningly different than certain bright green hued Saugivnon Blancs.

Another aspect of wine enjoyment is smell. Glasses are specifically shaped to help complex flavors to waft towards your nose, allow wine to swirl at the base and integrate with air, opening the bouquet.

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White Wine Glasses

The shape of a white wine glass is generally more slender with a smaller bowl and a slightly tapered top. The reasoning there is the smaller capacity helps to keep the wine cooler for longer. White wines tend to have lighter and more subtle aromas so a tapered top keeps those aromas from escaping.

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Red Wine Glasses

Certain glasses emphasize tannins, others emphasize the fruit, but the standard red wine glass has a larger bowl which tapers gently as it goes up. The larger bowl allows the aromas to spread out throughout the glass. Red wine tends to have more going on with the tannins, fruit and alcohol. These flavors need to blend together. The larger bowl allows the wine to swirl openly.

Make sure when you choose your wine glass that it’s big enough. The petite glasses may help curb the amount of wine that goes into your mouth, but if you can’t swirl the wine properly within the glass, you are not going to get the full aromas and appreciate the wine to its potential. You may also end up swirling your wine right out of your glass! You want to be able to have enough room for a decent 4-5 oz pour and that amount should only fill the glass a little less than halfway.

Stem vs Stemless

There are arguments over the stemmed glasses versus the stemless. Stemless wine glasses are chic and contemporary, breaking out of the mold as if to say, I do not need to be held up by a skinny peg leg! Short and stalky is the the new skinny, right? However, consider this if you find yourself shopping for wine glasses, unsure if you want to be new and hip or stick to traditional: If you are holding your glass, the stemless glasses force you to hold your hand at the base of the glass, where the wine sits. The heat of your  hand warms the wine to less than ideal temperatures (remember your hand is 98.6 degrees F!). Another con is greasy finger prints all over your glass, less noticeable on the stems, but if you are snacking on finger food, there is nothing less attractive than salami streaks greasing up your glass.

Feel free to drink your wine out of your lucky mug or that heirloom goblet, however there is a reason that wine glasses have been crafted over the centuries to look like they do. Your wine deserves to show its true colors.

Decanted Wines is located at 1410 Pine Ridge Rd Suite 21, Naples, FL 34108. More information and online ordering visit


Posted on July 12, 2010, in Wine. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I get such a kick out of reading these articles. Both you and Jessica have a very distinct tone in the way that you write. The line that gave you away and gave me a little chuckle was “Stemless wine glasses are chic and contemporary, breaking out of the mold as if to say, I do not need to be held up by a skinny peg leg!” LOL… Thanks. Great Article.

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