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Object Of The Week: The Wine Glass

You will be toasting with them tonight. Learn the basics on the ubiquitous wine glass.

The design of the wine glass as we know it today originated from 15th century Venice, the center of the glass-blowing world back then.  When they Venetians came up with the design for the wine glass, they also had just perfected the technique for creating clear glass or cristallo.

In the 17th century, the English started their glass blowing industry.  They initially used oak wood to fuel their furnaces for glass blowing, but a decree banning its use was made, in order to prevent further depletion of oak forests.  Instead of oak, the Royal Navy used sea coal, strengthening the glass.

In the 18th century, wine bottles weren’t kept at the table.  Wine was poured into glasses which were brought by a footman to the table.  The first wine glasses were also much smaller (like a shot glass)  than the ones we know today.  This was because of the large taxes that were imposed on glass.  When those taxes were relaxed in the 19th century, wine glasses grew in size.

Parts of a Wine Glass

The Base

A wine glass’s base is its “foot,” which allows it to stand upright.

The Stem

The stem’s practical purpose is to keep your hands away from the bowl, keeping it free from finger prints, but also keeping it from the warmth of the hand, thus allowing for the wine to be served at a correct temperature. It also allows the wine to stay at its optimal temperature, preserving its flavor.  Aesthetically, the stem is a feature that adds elegance to this object. 

The Bowl

The bowl has many variations, specific to the wine that you will pour into it.  The goal for the shape of bowl is to capture and disperse the aroma of a specific wine to your throat and nose.  Its shape and size also allows the specific wines to breathe.

The Rim

This part lets the drinker enjoy the wine to its fullest.  Some believe that the thinner the rim, the better, in order to make the wine flow smoothly.

How To Choose A Wine Glass

Choosing the correct wine glass for specific wines has a lot to do with how each one is meant to be enjoyed.

Red Wine Glass

The wine glass specific to red wine is recognizable by its wide and round bowl that affords you the experience of dipping your nose in for the aroma of the wine. The flavor and aroma of red wines tend to ever so slightly change with oxidation.  Their flavors smoothen after being exposed to air.  Hence, the shape that is suited for oxidation. Within this category are Bordeaux glasses which are designed for heavier wines such as the Merlots and Cabernets.  These are taller than the Burgundy glass, allowing the wine to flow directly to the mouth, maximizing its flavor.   On the other hand, the Burgundy glasses are for lighter reds like the Pinot Noir.  It has a wider bowl and it is shorter.  Its shape  directs the wine to the tip of the tongue for the you to taste its subtle flavors.

Red Wine Glass | @devinefoodandwine

White Wine

The white wine glass has a bowl that is U-shaped and upright in comparison to the red wine glass.  This maintains a cooler temperature while maintaining the wine’s aroma.   Age matters here.  Younger white wines are meant to be enjoyed with white wine glasses that have slightly larger openings, directing the wine to the tip and sides of the tongue, letting you experience its sweetness.  Older white wines are enjoyed for their bold flavors.  Drink these in white wine glasses that are straighter and taller.  They direct the wine to the back and tips of the tongue, underscoring these bold flavors.

White Wine Glass
White Wine Glass |

Sparkling Wine

Sparkling wines are best experienced in flutes.  These retain the carbonation and flavor.

Champagne Flute
Champagne Flute | @millvalleylumberyard

Dessert Wine

Because dessert wines have higher alcohol content, the glasses for them are smaller.  These small glasses also allow the flavor to be directed to the back of the mouth so as not to overwhelm the drinker’s tastebuds.

Dessert Wine Glass
Dessert Wine Glass | @agardencottage

To recap, a cheat sheet on wine glasses: