Does the size and shape of a wine glass make any difference in how the wine smells and tastes? Yes! For example, Champagne should not be poured into the traditional wide mouth sherbet glasses. Why? Because bubbles are the signature of sparkling wine and if you pour it into a wide mouthed glass most of the bubbles come to the surface immediately and disappear. When it is poured into a tall thin narrow mouthed glass, called a flute, the bubbles last much longer thereby increasing the flavor and fun of drinking a sparkling wine.
For many years there were two basic shapes of wine glasses. The so called “balloon”, shaped like a fishbowl on a stem for red wine and a tulip shaped narrower glass for the whites. The shape of wine glasses has undergone a rather dramatic change over time. Both red and white glasses are now being made more in the shape of a pear. The red wine glasses are now being made with a fatter bottom and the white wine glasses are made more like a tall skinner pear. Both white and red wine glasses are being made much larger. I believe that this is because wine gets a much better chance to open up and release itsr aromas and flavors in a larger glass when it is swirled. The smaller size of the opening at the top concentrates the “bouquet”, wine talk for aroma or smell. The selection of appropriate wine glasses is just one more fun thing to experiment with when experiencing sunlight held together by water. If you have ever been offered a sample of a wine in the liquor store poured into a little plastic cup you know what I’m talking about. You get almost none of the aromas that you do when the wine is poured into a properly shaped glass and given a swirl to let it open and then bringing it up to your nose.
If you want to read and see more about wine glass shapes, you can go the Riedel (Rēdel) web site and see a great variety of high end stem ware and the wines they recommend that they be used for. (In German ie = ē and ei = ī) There are many other sites advertising and talking about appropriate glasses for particular wines. Just Google “wine glasses”.
I attended a presentation by the regional Riedel representative. He had one bit of practical advice, especially apt because his glassware is quite expensive. He advised us never to wash our glasses after an evening of enjoying the pleasures of good wine. He said, “Remember, you’ve been drinking.”
Wine glasses without stems have come into style. Even Riedel makes them. The only objection I have to them is that without a stem or its base to hold on to, the wine in the glass will warm from the heat of your hand. Holding it by the stem or base allows it to stay at the temperature at which it was served for a longer period of time.
Swirling before sipping and then drawing in air over your teeth with the wine in your mouth to get more flavor out of the wine are acquired skills. Try swirling and drawing in air at home to avoid public embarrassment. The first attempts at swirling usually result in spilling wine on yourself and on the table cloth, especially if it’s red wine and the table cloth is white. Drawing in air may result in your dribbling down your front, again especially embarrassing if you are wearing a white shirt or blouse and drinking red wine. Be careful not to inhale the wine because ejecting wine through your nose really smarts and you don’t want to spray anyone. Swirling and sucking air into the wine in your mouth are not wine snob affectations. They really do enhance the aromas and flavors of the wine.
Wine and Food
I rarely find a perfect match of food and wine but for those of you who like German food I have a wine food pairing for you. I was recently treated to a traditional German supper. Sauerbraten, Sweet and Sauer Red Cabbage and Spaetzle. I brought a Liebfraumilch (Lēb frau milch) and a Zeller Schwarze Katz (Zeller Schwarzə Kat) and a dry (not sweet) red wine. The sweet fruity Liebfraumilch and the Schwarze Katz served chilled went perfectly with the sweet sour tastes of the Sauerbraten and Red Cabbage. The dry red wine tasted bitter and didn’t go well at all.
To your good health, Salute, Skol, Prost, Cheers.
~(Maurice can be contacted via email at Maurice@GreatPlainsExaminer.com.)~