When I started my course to become a qualified sommelier, I bought a few different sets of glasses for the different types of wine that I would be tasting while studying.
The glass is very important – tasting a wine is a sensory analysis, and the right glass can enhance or hold back the all-important aromas.
There are wine glasses of all sorts, but all of them must have in common some specific characteristics:
TRANSPARENCY: the glass must be transparent. From the colour of a wine we can understand quite a lot about its age and possible defects, while the consistency gives information about the body and alcohol content. So never use coloured or decorated glasses to serve wine.
GLASS SHAPE: shape is important in keeping the wine at the ideal serving temperature.
Furthermore, the glass shouldn’t be held in the hand. It’s best to hold it by the stem to avoid warming the wine.
MATERIAL: it must be glass or thin crystal. The thickness of the glass affects the wine temperature.
QUANTITY: the wine should fill the glass for a maximum of 1/2 of its volume (2/3 for the flute) to allow the aromas to oxygenate.
So far, I have listed some technical characteristics of the wine glass. Now we come to the most complex one: THE SHAPE.
The range of wine glasses is very wide, but we can simplify by shortlisting three different shapes, which can be used to serve all the most popular wines.
WHITE WINE GLASS
For me, the most suitable glass is a ‘tulip’ glass, which has a narrower opening than the body of the glass. For white wines, which have a strong olfactory intensity and fruity and floral aromas, this shape brings the aroma directly up to the nose.
Generally, the most suitable glass is a ‘medium balloon’, which has a wide opening, allowing the wine to oxygenate. Also remember to use a decanter if you can. Red wines have usually aged in barrels or bottles and have ethereal aromas that should be decanted beforehand to get the most from the wine.
In this case, the most suitable glass is the flute, to enhance the quality of the perlage (stream of bubbles) and to allow the bubbles to emerge.
As already mentioned, there are many glasses for connoisseurs (Burgundy, Renano, etc) but these three glasses are sufficient for an efficient and enjoyable tasting, and do not run the risk of breaking down the quality of the wine.
And what about the famous and fashionable champagne coupe?
In reality this glass is only suitable for aromatic and sweet sparkling wines that have a huge bouquet of aromas that the flute would reduce. It is a very elegant glass but it is for quite rare wines, while the flute can be adapted to all sparkling wines.
Always remember that each wine has its own personality, and it needs the glass that enhances it. Metaphorically you wouldn’t go to an event without the right dress!