Are you using the right wine glass?

When it comes to cocktails, the glass is as important to the finished drink as every other ingredient. But when pouring wine, few people think twice about which glass they use. It doesn’t help that glasses are rarely labelled in shops as anything other than “wine glass”, leading the customer to believe that there is a one-size-fits-all solution to wine drinking.

So, let’s clear things up right now. Whether your wine of choice is red, white, pink, sparkling or not, getting the right glass for your tipple can improve your drinking experience.

Glasses for red wine

Generally, red wine glasses are larger and taller, giving the drink more room to breathe before you savour it. But if you really want to get the right glass, it gets even more complicated, depending on the type of red wine you prefer.

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  • Bold red wines: This includes merlot, cabernet and Bordeaux wines. They require a specific glass shape – it is the tallest of all the wine glasses, with a broad base and a large stem. The main bowl of the glass is wide at the base but tapers towards the top. This is the best shape to get the most oxygen to the wine, bringing out fruit flavours and a smoother taste.
  • Medium to full-bodied wines: This is your Shiraz, Malbec, syrah and Sangiovese wines. This glass is slightly shorter and narrower than the above, but still bigger than a white wine glass. The opening is smaller, helping to soften harsh tones, while the narrower bowl helps trap the aromas, so you can really get a good whiff of your wine before drinking!
  • Pinot noirs and burgundys: These wines are best in shorter, wider red wine glasses. This shape helps collect the aromas and direct them to the exact spot on your tongue that will get the most benefit from the flavour. The wide surface area ensures maximum oxygen absorption, making for the most intense experience.

Glasses for white wine

  • Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling:  A long stem and a narrow bowl are best for these kind of white wines. The bowl tapers slightly, trapping aromas while reducing the amount of oxygen in the glass. Since white wines are lighter than reds, less oxygen is preferable to avoid over-diluting the flavours.
  • Chardonnay: This type of white wine should be served in a glass similar to Pinot Noir, but slightly smaller and with a short stem. Because Chardonnay is so full-bodied, it benefits from the extra oxygen contact of a wide bowl.

Glasses for other kinds of wine

  • Port and sherry: Fortified wines like port and sherry actually need slightly different glasses. Port benefits from a wide base and narrow rim, with a short structure. Meanwhile, sherry is better in a small, narrow glass, giving it a more consistent structure.
  • Champagne and other sparkling wines: Of course, anything with bubbles should be served in a flute. The long stem keeps your hand away from the liquid, preventing you from accidentally warming it up. The shape of the glass directs the liquid straight to the back of your palate, while the narrow shape keeps your drink bubbly for longer.

Of course, you could drink any of these drinks out of a mug and still enjoy it. But getting the glass right does add an extra air of elegance to your drink and ensure the perfect sip every time.

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Bartender's top tip

Stirring cocktails instead of shaking is better for cocktails with delicate ingredients that need to be mixed gently for the perfect taste.

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