Guide to Wine Glasses and Accessories
A Real Pain in the Glass
Choosing wine glasses should be as easy as one, two, three … and it would be if there weren’t so many different kinds. Difficulty can be avoided by just buying all-purpose wine glasses and being done with it, but there are differences in the designs for a reason and it doesn’t have to be all that hard.
Oenologists may be the only people in the world who can really experience the difference in a wine’s flavor, texture and aroma as it is altered by the type of glass from which it is consumed, but the fact that it’s even possible is pretty cool and deserves a word of note. At the very least, it might be fun to serve wine in the “wrong” wine glasses and see if anyone is knowledgeable (pretentious?) enough to point it out.
“Red Red Wine”
Red wines are so dynamic that history and overzealous connoisseurs have found it fit to bestow upon them more than one kind of glass. Generally speaking, red-wine glasses have deep, wide bowls that let the wine breathe, which rest on stems of middling length. Their design allows drinkers to enjoy the wine’s “bouquet” while drinking, and also directs the wine to areas on the palate where it will be best savored. Finally, clear glass is used to showcase the hue of the vintage.
1. Bordeaux Glass
This glass has a taller bowl that helps to direct wine to the back of the mouth, and is best used for Cabernets and Syrahs.
2. Burgundy Glass
These glasses have broader, bigger bowls that better allow the wine to oxygenate and give drinkers more room to get their noses into them. It also directs wines like Pinots toward the tip of the tongue where they’re best enjoyed.
It’s All White
Clearly not as sophisticated as reds (!), white wines get only one kind of glass. The design serves the same purpose as that of the red-wine glasses, but the bowl is a bit slimmer to better focus what is typically a gentler aroma and also maintain a cooler temperature.
Serious wine enthusiasts will insist on slight variations in shape for younger whites versus more mature vintages to direct the wine to the proper places on the palate (the tip of the tongue for the former, and the back of the tongue for the latter).
More Effervescence, Please
The champagne flute, also called a sparkling-wine glass, is by far the most distinct of the bunch. Its tall, slim design serves several purposes, not least of which is the ability for the drinker to quickly drain it and get back to the dance floor.
Champagne is celebrated for its bubbles and the flute design maximizes this attribute by giving them a long, clear length to percolate to the top. The small mouth focuses the effervescence into a fine mousse that tickles the nose and the taste buds.
The dessert-wine glass is best designed with a shorter, wider bowl that directs the typically sweeter, stronger beverage toward the back of the tongue where it won’t be too overwhelming. The bowls are also often smaller to discourage overindulging in what usually amounts to a sugary liquor bomb.
Everyone knows the best accessory for wine is food, and pairing the two is a science unto itself, but there is also an assortment of accoutrements that make wine drinking even more enjoyable (and even easier, at least when speaking of corkscrews).
While very important, a corkscrew is not the only indispensable accessory. A bottle stopper (or two, or three …) is a good thing to keep around, as is a good old-fashioned wine rack. These are simply the types of items that keep an evening of wine drinking orderly and civilized, and less likely to deteriorate into a stain-streaked, bottle-strewn display of bacchanalia.
Of course, the more discriminating appreciator of the fermented grape may find use for any number of other devices, from drip catchers and wine thermometers to aerators and deluxe wine openers. At the end of the day, though, all one really needs is the wine and the will, and the way will present itself in due course.
Proper wine storage can improve the taste of your wine collection. A wine cooler will keep your wine at the ideal temperature to promote longevity and flavor preservation in your favorite wines.
If your wine cooler will be in your kitchen or other visible area in your home, you will want to make sure the finish matches your décor. Wine coolers come in a variety of finishes ranging from rust to black, steel to white so there will be something for every style.
Decide what features you want your wine cooler to have. These range from everything from noise level to energy use to door swing measurements. Defrosters and humidity control will provide you with the best environment to store your wine.
Many wine coolers have multiple temperature zones so they can store white and red wines. These two wines should be stored at different temperatures for optimal results, so double zone wine coolers are very popular. Amateur wine collectors may want wine coolers with preset temperature controls while seasoned wine connoisseurs may want to set their own temperatures.