Caring about which glass to serve wine in may seem pretentious, but with basic understanding about why each glass complements a certain type of wine, businesses can improve the quality of service they offer their customers. Though a wine glass probably will not make or break a wine drinking experience, serving wine in a glass that suits it can subtly improve the taste, smell, and feel of the wine. Listed below are some of the types of wine glasses available along with information about why they are best for certain types of wines.
Wide Bottomed-Wide Topped
Wide wine glasses are great for wines that should be allowed to “breathe,” such as those with sharp flavors or high alcohol content. The wide shape of the glass allows the air to circulate well across the surface of the wine, rounding out sharp flavors, making it more palatable. White wines such as Chardonnay and red wines such as Bordeaux are typically served in these glasses.
Wide Bottomed-Thin Topped
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Smooth red wines with strong, pleasant aromas can be complemented in glasses with a wide bottom and thinner top. The wide bottom allows air to reach the wine, letting it breathe, while the narrow top concentrates the aromas in one area, emphasizing the smell. Science has proven that the smell of a food or drink can directly affect consumers’ taste perceptions, making it important to emphasize the aroma of a fruity wine, such as a Zinfandel.
Dessert wine glasses for sweet drinks such as brandy, Port, and sweet white wines are usually short. The small size holds just a few sips, which is enough to satisfy a sweet tooth due to the sharp sweetness of these wines. The shape is usually easy to hold in the palm of your hand, which warms up the contents of the glass, releasing smells and flavors.
Thin, Tall Glasses
Thin, tall wine glasses typically used for Champagne or Cava allow a minimal surface area for the air to touch the wine. This prevents the bubbles in the wine from escaping too quickly, and helps keep the wine cool for a longer period of time.
Stemless Wine Glasses
Stemless wine glasses give a wine drinking experience a modern feel. However, the stem of the classic wine glass serves a purpose: it gives the drinker something to hold on to without warming up the contents of the glass. Though a wider temperature is acceptable when serving red wines, white wines are usually preferred served cool. The temperature is especially important for bubbly wines, since the bubbles are retained longer in liquid at low temperatures. In other words, the wine is bubblier when it is served cool, since the bubbles escape the liquid at a lesser rate. Therefore, as a general rule stemless wine glasses are less than ideal for use as a versatile wine glass.
The types of wine glasses presented here are a small selection compared to the options available. Many of the other options cater to more specific types of wines. The amount of specificity a venue will choose to have for its wine glasses depends on the type of venue. A gourmet, expensive restaurant may choose to strive for perfection in its food and drinks, making serving each wine in complementary wine glasses important. On the other hand, casual venues may offer only a few types of wines, so matching the glasses to the wines is simple. The real decision must be made by venues unable to invest in specific wine glasses for each type of wine, but wanting to offer customers a vast selection. Such venues should purchase the most versatile glasses available, such as the ones mentioned in this article, in order to adequately complement every type of wine offered.
When considering which wine glasses to purchase, food businesses should keep in mind that marketing has a huge effect on the public. Chances are, having a very specific type of wine glass for each type of wine will not make a noticeable difference in the drinking experience. Many believe that this idea is simply a marketing strategy of the glass companies, lacking a real effect on the quality of the drinking experience. However, customers are also privy to such marketing and may consider a venue higher class if the wine glasses are above par.
Another factor to consider is wine glass maintenance. Though glasses of the finest crystal are likely to feel noticeably better to a customer, oftentimes they are not dishwasher-safer, making them an inconvenience for restaurants and caterers. As a general rule, the thinner the glass, the higher the quality. However, businesses should consider the benefits versus the costs, since fine glasses are easier to break.
Since there is no “right” solution for wine glass purchasing, each venue should decide how to approach wine glass purchasing based on the type of venue as well as their budget.