BY: Sean Wilborn OF CHÂTEAU ÉLAN
Recall for a moment how a Coke-a-Cola just tastes better when enjoyed from a glass bottle? You remove the bottle cap, the bottle fits your hand perfectly as you bring the cold glass to your lips. It hits your mouth perfectly with just the right amount of fizz. Ahh! Well the very same difference exists with your glass of wine. Imagine elevating your wine experience to such a nostalgic level! There is a way and it’s all in the glass.
Wine, like drinking Coke from a glass bottle, is an experience. The notion of wine alone is an experience, from farming grapes to making wine, to removing the cork at home and sharing with friends…wine is indeed an experience. Furthermore, wine is an investment. A decent bottle of wine can set you back a couple of Hamilton’s so it makes sense to take it all in from a vessel that gets the most out of each pour.
There are several shapes of wine glasses out there to choose from. There are several shapes of wine glasses out there to choose from. What’s most important is that the glass captures the subtle nuances and aromas of the variety and really showcases the wine’s bouquet. Choose the wrong glass (that includes a red plastic cup or anything of the like) and lose what you should otherwise smell. It has been discovered that 80% of what we taste comes from what we smell; so if you can’t smell it, you can’t taste it. What a shame it would be to unknowingly miss out!
Generally speaking, white wines don’t require as much surface area to release, so a smaller glass tends to work best. For red wines, the nose tends to bemore complex and can use more surface area to expand its aromatics and really open up. Thus, a large, more bulbous vessel will do the trick. But amazingly, for a truly mind-blowing experience, there is varietal specific stemware to bring even more balance to the occasion. Varietal specific glasses, pioneered by Riedel Glass Co. of Austria, are designed to cater specifically to the variety of wine. A Chardonnay grape makes a very different smelling and tasting wine compared to a Sauvignon Blanc or a Riesling grape and so forth. To capture those differences, the glass should logically conform to those different characteristics.
To balance the acidity and aromas, the glass’s shape should find the right layer of smells to showcase and right place on your palate to contact first. Nail this, and you will take your wine experience to an entirely new level. Who knew a glass could be so important?
Riedel offers tastings where you can experience firsthand how the shape of a Pinot Noir glass is made for Pinot Noir and how the same wine tastes different in a Bordeaux glass. It’s an eye opening and even mind-blowing experience. So don’t stop short on your stemware! It’s worth investing in the right glass to get the most out of your next bottle of wine!