Does Glassware affect the taste of wine?
When you start delving into the world of wine you'll start to realise that it can get really confusing. Between the different glass shapes for which colour wine you're drinking and then another glass for champagne and then a few others for fortified wine, you'll end up feeling you need 30 different glasses in order to be in the norm in terms of glassware and then a question creeps up in your mind...
..Does it really make a difference what glass you use to drink wine?
The short answer is yes..
While it can seem rather idiotic to have a seperate glass for each type of wine you may want to drink the reality is that there are different shapes for a special reason.
Riedel was the first to suggest that glassware was an integral part of the tasting experience and developed glasses for each varietal in order for the wine to come into contact with the preferred tastebuds using the tongue map. There is no scientific basis to this claim and the "tongue map" has been subject to a lot of controversy regarding its validity and accuracy.
First let's start off by explaining the anatomy of a wine glass. There are four different parts, the Rim, the Bowl, the Stem and the Foot.
Wine glasses have this distinct shape in order to accentuate the tasting experience. A thin rim is most preferable when choosing wine glasses as it reduces the impact of a physical object between the wine and the drinker. Classic wine glasses also have stems for two special reasons. The first is to avoid heating the wine with your hands by using the stem to grip the glass and second is to avoid your hand smell from affecting the aromas contained in the wine.
For fuller bodied red wines it's necessary to have a glass with a wide bowl as that will help to release the aromatic flavours contained in the wine. The wider opening will also mitigate the strength of the tannins making the wine have a creamy and smooth texture on the palate.
That's not so much the case for white wines which do a lot better with smaller bowl which helps concentrate the aromatic favours on a smaller zone thus preserving the floral aromas. This shape also allows to keep the wine cooler for longer. Some white wine glasses may be larger to better fit the style of full bodied white wines such as oaked Chardonnay or a vintage Viognier.
Champagne on the other hand has a distinct reason for its shape which is long and thin. This form limits the surface area for bubbles to pop and consequently protects the sparkling aspect of the wine. Dessert wine glasses are generally smaller in size to accomodate for the increased percentage in alcohol.
If you're a real aficionado and you spend time washing and taking care of your wine glasses than maybe you may find that spending a bit more to have real quality cristal glasses that suit perfectly your drinking needs is a necessary expenditure. For us mere mortals, the best is to own glasses that suit both extreme spectrums, a glass with a big wide bowl for those aromatic red wines that will allow you to make the most of those naturally spiced aromas. A glass for white wines and a glass for champagne. this should cover your bases for at least a little while until you find the need to spend a little more.
What about you? Do you think glassware makes a difference when drinking wine?
Tell me in the comments.