Portugal produces a fantastic array of good quality wines, so is it important to drink them from the right glass?
They say you should first take account of the shape of the bowl to match it to the type of wine you want it for, then look at the stem, then the rim. But does it really matter? Wine is still wine isn’t it, whether from a tumbler or a posh glass? Well, apparently even small subtle differences in your glass design can affect how you experience your wine. Apparently, the glass shape impacts on how much air comes in contact with the wine, how much aroma is released to reach your nose and ultimately how it tastes.
A glass with a wide bowl, typically used for red wines, exposes much of the wine to the air, and a lot of the aroma is able to waft up to your nose. Red wines typically have bigger, wider bowls to help release those bolder flavours, with the wide bowl helping to aerate the wine.
A narrow bowl is normally used for white wines, and because most white wines have a more delicate aroma, a narrower glass helps channel these subtler smells more toward your nose. It also exposes less of the wine's surface area to air and helps preserve white wines' chill.
So what about bubbly? Once exposed to oxygen, sparkling wines lose their effervescence, so choosing a tall narrow fluted glass best preserves all those lovely bubbles.
Stem or not?
Next: a stem or not. Mostly it's a matter of personal preference, but a stemless glass increases the temperature of the wine, because of the warmth of your hand holding the bowl, so ok for red, not so ok for white. It’s a bit tricky to hold a glass by the stem only – but not impossible!
Next: the rim. Apparently, a thin cut rim with no lip allows the wine to flow smoothly onto your tongue, whereas thicker rolled rims inhibit smooth flow and can accentuate acidity and harshness in the wine.
So what about port? Portugal is famous for its port, so what should it be drunk from? There are traditional port glasses that are shaped like a small red wine glass, but some say it should be served in a larger glass, to enable you to swirl the port to appreciate the best aromas and colours.
Lastly, should a wine glass be crystal or plain old glass? It doesn’t necessarily have to be crystal, but it does have its good side. Crystal stemware really plays the senses by giving it a better appearance. Crystal stemware, especially those containing lead, refract light, creating a prism that makes the wine in the glass look more enticing. Crystal stemware can have lead or be lead-free, and despite crystal glasses being thinner, they are a strong material and are more durable, with the newer crystal glasses even being dishwasher-safe.
Do keep in mind, though, that all the guidelines about matching wine glasses to wines are simply that: guidelines. Ultimately the best wine glass choice for any particular wine is the one in which the wine tastes best to you.
Personally, I am of the opinion that good wine does taste better from a good glass, but what do I know, my cupboard is a hotchpotch of mis-matched glasses due to my ability to break them, so most wines taste good to me in any of them!
But if you don’t like the way that new wine tastes – try changing the glass before you blame the wine!