2/10/2009

It's All in the Glass

Posted by The Wine Whore |

We often overlook how much impact the shape and design of glassware has on the taste of wine. For years wine lovers have been exploring how differences in design can be manipulated to sculpt glassware that optimizes the wine tasting experience of each varietal.

One such glassware engineer, Professor Claus J. Riedel, was the first glass designer to recognize that the bouquet, taste, balance and finish of wines are affected by the shape of the glass from which they are drunk. He realized that while a well chosen wine glass can�t make a bad bottle of wine taste good, it can bring out the positive qualities and balance. Companies such as Riedel and my personal favorite, Waterford�s Robert Mondavi series, craft their glasses with attention to size and shape to bring out intensity of aromas and direct the wine to key parts of the tongue and mouth. This attention to detail brings balance to the wine by emphasizing tannin, acidity, and fruitiness.

Deciding on the type of glass is confusing with all of the different shapes and sizes available today. To explore all of the different options, taste the same bottle of wine in several different glasses and note how it changes the taste and nose of the wine. Ultimately, when it comes to choosing a glass, three characteristics are important: size of the bowl, size of the opening, and where it ultimately directs the wine in your mouth.

I explain below how the differences in these three characteristics can be used to optimize many different types of red and white wines. Keep this information handy next time you try to decide which glass to use for your next bottle of wine:




BIG REDS
Bowl Size - Wide Bowl
Opening Size - Wide Opening
Taste Buds - Back of the Mouth

These full bodied wines need a large bowl and opening to allow oxygenation for both flavor and bouquet optimization. The bitter characteristics are brought out of these big red varieties by directing the wine to the back of the mouth.

Recommended Wines: Sangiovese, Hermitage (red), Amarone, Barbera, Grenache, Malbec, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah, Pinotage, Priorato




MEDIUM REDS
Bowl Size - Wide Bowl
Opening Size - Wide Opening
Taste Buds - Center palate

With large amount of flavors that need to spread out, this wider bowl allows the wine to open and breathe, which releases bold aromas and flavors. Directing the wine to the center palette keeps the sweetness and acidity in balance.

Recommended Wines: Brunello di Montalicino, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Domina, Fronsac, Graves Rouge, Listrac, Medoc, Margaux, Moulis, Pomerol, Sangiovese, Sangioveseo-Grosso, Madiren




SOFT REDS
Bowl Size - Wide Bowl
Opening Size - Narrows at Tinge of Opening
Taste Buds - Tip of the Tongue

The distinctive bouquet of this grape benefits from the flared shape of the glass which directs the vapors to the nose. The tip of the tongue allows the salty/sweet taste buds to really dig into the fruit and natural acidity of the wine

Recommended Wines: Barolo, Barbaresco, Beaujolais Grand Cru, Blauburgunder, Echezeaux, Moulin a vent, Musigny, Nuits Saint Georges, Vosne-Romanee, Voueot, Trollinger, Barolo, Barbaresco, Beaujolais Grand Cru, Dornfelder, Gamay, Musigny, Nebbiolo, Pommard, Santenay, Rioja, Tempranillo




BIG WHITES
Bowl Size - Narrow Bowl
Opening Size - Narrow Opening
Taste Buds - Back of the Mouth

A narrow bowl that narrows slightly at the opening allows for the concentration of aromas towards the nose, accentuating the delicate fruit aromas of this crisp, dry, and refreshing white varietal. The bitter characteristics are also brought out by directing the wine to the back of the mouth.

Recommended Wines: Albarino, Barbera, Blauburgunder, Burgundy (white), Carignan, Chablis, Chenin Blanc, Cortese, Hermitage Blanc, Marsanne, Mersault, Montrachet, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Pinto Gris, Rulander, Viognier, Corton-Charlemagne, New World Chardonnay, Pouilly Fuisse, Bordeaux (white), Hermitage Blanc, Sauvignon-Semillon, Chasselas, Chenin Blanc, Coulee De Serrant, Gewurtztraminer, Graves Blanc, Loire (white), Pouilly-Fume, Rulander, Sancerre




MEDIUM WHITES
Bowl Size - Narrow Bowl
Opening Size - Narrow Opening
Taste Buds - Center palate

The smaller capacity helps keep temperatures cool longer and the lighter aromas waft well in a narrower glass. The narrow opening reveals the wine's true bouquet and intensity, while emphasizing and optimizing its wide range of rich aromas. Directing the wine to the center palette keeps the sweetness and acidity in balance.


Recommended Wines: Albarino, Barbera, Blauburgunder, Burgundy (white), Carignan, Chablis, Chenin Blanc, Cortese, Hermitage Blanc, Marsanne, Mersault, Montrachet, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Pinto Gris, Rulander, Viognier, Corton-Charlemagne, New World Chardonnay, Pouilly Fuisse




SOFT WHITES
Bowl Size - Narrow Bowl
Opening Size - Narrow Opening
Taste Buds - Tip of the Tongue

With all of the benefits of the other white wine glasses, this glass focuses the wine to the tip of the tongue allowing the sweet taste buds to enjoy the luscious characteristics of these wines.

Recommended Wines: Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztiminer



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