Serving wine seems like a simple task, but choosing the proper glassware to accentuate the best properties of your chosen wine is not always so simple. Glassware is essential to the wine tasting experience; wine served in an unsuitable vessel does not emanate its signature nuances. The right glassware enhances the color, aroma and taste of wine, and quality wine glasses are a sound investment for any wine lover.
The best wine glasses typically share similar characteristics: they are made from clear crystal, have large thin-rimmed bowls with a 10 to 18 ounce capacity, balance well when held in the hand and taper slightly toward the top. Each of these characteristics has specific benefits to the tasting experience. Clear crystal allows the wine to display its full color, and a large, tapering bowl permits the aromas of the wine to expand in the glass as they are funneled directly to your nose. A thin rim minimizes the impact of the glass on the flavor of the wine. Hand-blown glass offers superior balance and a thinner rim compared to machine-made glass, but they are much more costly.
A red wine calls for a glass with a larger bowl and a wider opening than a white wine due to its more prominent sensory profile. Serve sparkling wine should in either a tall, narrow glass or a tulip-shaped glass to facilitate the rising bubbles and to lock in the aroma. Fortified wines, such as sherry and port, are typically smaller than other wine glasses; they are intended to be consumed in smaller quantities.
Glassware has a significant impact on the overall experience of wine tasting. However, no matter what type of glassware you choose, it is important never to overfill the glass. With the exception of sparkling wine, which you must never swirl to preserve the bubbles, you should only fill a wine glass halfway to allow room to swirl the wine, which allows you and your guests to unlock its full personality.