FAQ: Does the style of glass actually matter when I’m serving wine?
Answer: Yes, in that the shape and size if your glass certainly has an effect on the wine inside it. But this doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune on pure crystal glasses either!
(Feel free to skip ahead to the summary at the end)
Glass Aspects to Consider:
- Stem or no stem? If a wine glass has a stem, this should be the part you hold. Handling your glass by the stem not only prevents unsightly finger smudges from clouding up your glass, but also keeps the heat from your hands from warming up your wine. So wines that should have a glass with a stem would be whites and sparkling (both of which are served cold). Red wines which are meant to be served at room temperature (=50-65 °F or 10-18 °C) are really the best candidates to be served in glasses without stems.
- Wide or narrow? Think of a tall and skinny champagne flute versus a wide and shallow glass. Flutes, the tall skinny glasses, should be what holds your bubbly wines. This keeps them sparkly for much longer because bubbles have much more wine to pass through on their way to the surface. Wide glasses, instead, are better for red wines because they offer much more air contact via the wider surface and reds benefit from this aeration while their white wine colleagues usually don’t. White wines typically do better in glasses which become more narrow at the top (second glass from the left in picture above).
- Big or small? Shot glass sized or big enough for a fly to swim laps in? Typically after dinner drinks are served in smaller glasses, partially due to the smaller portion consumed and partially to concentrate the aromas in the glass when drinking them. Bigger glasses are generally better for non-fortified reds, which can stand to be sipped slowly, and medium to big glasses are also best for non-fortified whites. The smaller sized glass (third from the left in the picture above) are perfect for tastings, because they are great for exploring the aromas in a small portion of a wine.
Other Aspects to Consider:
- Do you wash your glasses by hand or in a dishwasher? Dishwashers are more likely to break fragile crystal glassware, so if you have an aversion to washing individual glasses by hand you should consider non-crystal glasses and/or ones without stems.
- Do you have somewhere safe to keep glasses? In other words, do you have to shove them in the same cabinet where you get your morning coffee mug? Do you have cabinets that are out of reach of the curious hands of children? If you don’t have a particularly safe spot for glasses, stick with less expensive glassware as opposed to costly crystal.
- Do you typically drink only a few types of wines? If you usually drink still reds or whites and occasionally some sparkling wine, you probably need to only invest in 2 types of glasses: the flute and a standard wine glass (see below). If you drink a large variety of wines, from sweet to fortified to usual reds, you might consider actually getting more than just the 2 aforementioned types.
Tired of reading? Let’s just summarize:
- Amarone della Valpolicella, Chianti Classico Riserva, Barbera d’Alba, Cesanese di Piglio, Montefalco Sangrantino, etc
Wider Glass With Stem – Fuller or Fullish Bodied Whites or Reds
- Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, Orvieto Classico Superiore, some international varieties made in Italy like Viognier and oaked Chardonnay, Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Barolo, Primitivo.
- Franciacorta, Spumante Asti, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene, Trento Metodo Classico
Small Glasses – Wine Tasting Portions, Fortified Wines, Dessert Wines
- Picolit, Moscato, Vin Santo, Marsala, any wine with “Passito” in the name like Falesco Passirò passito, wines with “Vendemmia Tardiva” or “VT” in the name like Umbria IGT La Palazzola Vendemmia Tardiva or Castello dei Rampolla Trebianco V.T.
- Chianti, Valpolicella, Nebbiolo IGT, Soave, Pinot Grigio, Friulano, Falanghina, etc.