Style or Shape?

By on June 9, 2014

When it comes to wine glasses, this world of stemware takes no prisoners. Not even my shoe collection can rival with such diversity and quantity. It seems a glass can be found for every occasion, wine style, color, and even grape variety. Which glass is better? Does the wine taste more superior in a Riedel, Spiegelau, or Waterford crystal? It may, however I certainly would not shun them away given the opportunity.

My INAO (Institut Nacional de l’Origine et de la Qualité), non-crystal tasting glass has been my preferred tool of choice for now. We love to describe wine with such eloquence, and yet the wine glass evokes these choices of words: tube like, egg shape, big base, narrow neck. How divine for a glass of wine. All of this leads us to ponder a more serious question in life: does the shape of the wine glass really matter?

Oui, Oui I scream using my best French accent! You can easily try a simple experiment using several shapes and styles of glasses and recipients to discover a seemingly shy wine can transform itself and reveal its true personality under optimal conditions.

The architecture of the glass, like many things in life, should be well balanced. The height and width of the glass should be well proportioned to the base, rim, and have an elongated neck making it easier to hold the glass without warming the wine. The base of the glass is designed to summon your best swirling technic without spilling. It acts as a funnel for the phenolic compounds to escape the glass. The more narrow the top of the glass with respect to its base, the more amounts of aromas gather themselves allowing you to fully appreciate the wine with your olfactory sense. The phenolic compounds directly affect the aromas, taste, and color of the wine without having to delve back to my organic chemistry classes which I knew would serve me well one day.

I like to keep things simple in life and will therefore suggest three shapes of wine glasses for your wine cellar, or as in my case; the kitchen cupboard. A glass for white, red, and sparkling/champagne is a great start.

The white wine glass is smaller and narrower than its red counterpart. Its smaller stature prevents the wine from warming up too quickly. Some will say it doesn’t matter as they don’t plan on keeping the glass full for a lengthy period of time. People, it’s not a race! The smaller tapered shape can also help the subtleties of certain white wines to concentrate their aromas which can allow for a better tasting.

The red wine glass will be slightly larger with a rounder bowl. It allows the wine to oxygenate and awaken aromas or soften the tannins. The red wines tend to speak louder and therefore need more space to express themselves just like some of our friends.

The sparkling/champagne glass is the traditional flûte; zute alors! The trumpet shape is now more commonly used rather than the previous coupe. The bowl or body of the flute assists in keeping the dance of the bubbles alive and prevent the party in the flûte to fizzle out.

A multitude of different shapes of glasses exist. Several wine glass companies, such as the Riedel Company, has designed different glasses for different grapes. I would gladly test their theories upon an invitation…just saying. Until then, I will gladly put my winetitude aside for a glass of Lallier’s Rosé Grand Cru Champagne, even if all I have is a paper cup!

Sommelière Mimi

About Sommelière Mimi

Sommelière Mimi was born in Montreal in a wine loving family. Her wine tasting experience dates back to an early age and after studies in English Literature, Languages, Medical Laboratory, and even a Pilot License, she finally decided to officially learn the language of Cava, Prosecco, and Vitis vinifera by obtaining the Sommelier Diploma. Her “day job” as a Flight Attendant enables her to keep discovering products from around the world. Mimi has decided to pursue her wine studies and also share her joy in discovering wine.

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