Can specific glassware influence the taste of your wine?
Ever wondered if it really matters whether you use a red wine glass or white wine glass? We put it to the test.
The experience of tasting wine is a personal one – each person has a different palate; some with specific preferences. It all boils down to perception. However, there are certain conditions that favour the profile of a wine – this pertains to the temperature it’s served at and the specific kind of glass it’s served in.
An enormous range of glass shapes and sizes are used for the service of wine, each specially designed to amplify and emphasise a wine’s characteristics. But have you ever wondered if it really matters whether you use a red wine glass or a white wine glass and what the difference is anyway? We put it to a small test by taking one bottle of wine and comparing different glasses to one another to see how the profile and bouquet changed per tasting.
We opened a bottle of shiraz from the Swartland region and tested it with three different glasses.
Glass 1: A classic large red wine glass with a medium-to-large surface area and a large enough brim to swirl, tilt and nose.
Glass 2: A stemless wine glass with a small surface area and an even smaller brim.
Glass 3: A white wine glass meant for full-bodied and bold white wines. Large in size, plus a large surface area for ample space to aerate the wine.
Glass 3 – the white wine glass – made the shiraz’s tannins and acidity far too overpowering, even after aerating naturally at room temperature.
While the stemless wine glass – glass 2 – is convenient and easy to handle, the disadvantage of stemless glassware is the very obvious appearance of grubby fingerprints on the glass, thus making the experience a messy one. As for the taste, the alcohol level unfortunately overpowered the aromas and flavours of the shiraz.
Glass 1 was a sure-fire winner! A classic, elegant large red wine glass intended for most robust reds showed the all-round character of this spectacular Swartland Shiraz. Although a 2019 vintage, evolving primary characteristics flowed in harmony with its intended glass, making for a pleasant tasting experience.
With that in mind, use the below guide knowing it certainly makes a huge difference.
Best served in larger glasses. This will allow the red wine to be fully aerated so it opens up to develop its aromas and flavours.
White wines and rosé
These lighter and fruitier wines need to be served in medium-sized glasses. The fresh, crisp and fruity flavours gather toward the top of the glass for easy drinking.
To get the best out of sparkling wines, it’s recommended that you serve them well-chilled and in fluted glasses. The shape enhances the effect, with the bubbles and aroma allowing them to travel through a larger volume of the wine before bursting at the very top of the glass. However, full-bodied MCCs work well in larger glasses to amplify the flavours on the nose and palate.
High in alcohol, these wines should be served in small, narrow glasses so that the fruit profile of the wine shines through the high alcohol. The glass should, however, be large enough to allow swirling and nosing.
Note: Clean glassware is of paramount importance, as the slightest taint of any sort can ruin the flavour of the wine. Before each use, polish each glass to make sure there’s no dust or dishwashing detergent residue left behind. The best cloth to use is a linen one, which won’t leave any pieces of fluff on the glassware.