Jul 25 2018

Ever wonder why there are so many shapes and sizes of wine glasses? It turns out they’re not just for looks. Different wines have distinct flavour profiles, and these can be enhanced with the right wine glass. The shape of the wine glass has an impact on the way the drinker experiences its flavours and aromas. Having a good selection of wine glasses at home means tasting each bottle at its best. Here’s how to choose the right glass for red, white and rosé wines.

Red Wine Glasses

Red wines are full-bodied and complex. They taste their best at room temperature after having had some time to breathe. Red wine glasses have a round, wide bowl to increase the surface area, which helps the wine make contact with air. They also have a wide opening to allow for nose room. Smell, after all, is closely linked to taste, which means the right glass will affect the wine’s flavour. In general, more robust reds, like Merlots and Cabernets, should be served in a tall glass to direct the wine to the back of the tongue. Lighter reds, like Pinot Noir, benefit from a shorter glass that allows the tip of the tongue to sample more delicate flavour compounds. There are actually many different kinds of glasses designed for red wine varietals, but these basics will help you get the most out of your next bottle without making things too complicated.

White Wine Glasses

White wines are crisp and refreshing, with citrus-based or spicy flavors that are best served cold. White wine glasses are more upright, with a narrow opening that concentrates the aroma and reduces the surface area to keep the wine cool. This also maintains the white wine’s colder temperature. A younger, sweeter white should be served in a glass with a wide bowl that directs the wine to the tip of the tongue. A more mature, dry white is best served in a tall glass that concentrates flavour and directs the wine to the back of the tongue, where greater complexity can be discerned. In general, white wine glasses are straighter and narrower than red wine glasses to get the most out of a white wine’s flavour profile.

Rosé Wine Glasses

Because rosé is fermented in a manner similar to white wine and is typically chilled, it’s often served in an upright white wine glass. While this is acceptable, a rosé’s characteristic sweetness can be further enhanced by using a glass with a flared lip. This style directs the wine to the front of the tongue where receptors for sweetness are in the greatest concentration. More full-bodied rosés can be served in a glass with a slight taper—think of a shortened red wine glass—to accentuate complex flavours.

Sparkling Wine Glasses

Finally, sparkling wines have special considerations all their own. The tiny bubbles that give sparklers their spark are bits of carbon dioxide released as a byproduct of fermentation. Sparkling wines require the tallest glass of all to maintain their carbonation, so the classic Champagne flute is perfect for all varieties. These tall, narrow glasses maintain the wine’s fizziness by increasing the time it takes for bubbles to float to the top and disappear from the wine. The narrow shape also helps keep the wine chilled.

With attention to detail, the right wine glass will enhance the flavour of any bottle of wine, making fine wine an amazing experience.