Sep 09 2008

Is there any clear reason for red and white glasses?

Published by at 2:30 AM under Savvy Sip Tips,Wine Accessories

Red wine glasses are wonderful. They are fat and round, meaning they hold more wine to begin with, and they are easier to hold when you’ve had more wine by night’s end.

White wine glasses, on the other hand, are rather skinny and pale. Not one to judge by appearance alone, I’m less fond of white wine glasses simply because I have to get up and pour more often.

Is there a good reason for the difference in shape? It depends on whom you ask.

Riedel, maker of world-famous crystal wine glasses, would say most definitely yes. In fact, Riedel believes that many different shapes are necessary to appreciate the many different types of wine, even distinguishing Pinot Noir from Syrah. “Professor Claus J. Riedel was the first designer to recognize that the bouquet, taste, balance and finish of wines are affected by the shape of the glass from which they are drunk,” the website states.

Jancis Robinson, author of the Oxford Companion to Wine and in my opinion both a wine goddess and world expert, notes that there are several distinct design necessities for good wine tasting. Despite the popularity of stemless glasses, she notes that a stem allows one to handle the glass and swirl the wine without affecting its temperature with one’s hands. A bowl that narrows toward the top lets the scent of the wine, its bouquet, collect so the drinker can inhale and savor it. And clear, thin glass lets the flavor and the color of the wine be properly appreciated.

Riedel’s glasses are exciting and make the experience of tasting wine a high event indeed. But Ms. Robinson’s key points allow me to relax about the matter if I’m fresh out of Burgundy glasses and have to settle for plain-old fat red wine glasses. Usually, the friends I’m pouring for are just happy to have something nice to drink, and I’m happy for their company. In fact, I might scare them a little if I start to talk about volume and curvature before we dig into the cheesecake.

Come to my house, and I’ll pour you a hefty glass of your favorite white right into my fat red wine glasses, so you can drink as much as you want. I’ll geek out on crystal with my fellow sommeliers later.

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