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Two Women on Wine: A wine glass must allow the five Ss

The proper wine vessel allows proper appreciation

Posted: February 25, 2010 4:02 p.m.
Updated: February 26, 2010 6:00 a.m.
Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier
Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier
Does it matter what glass I use when drinking wine? Can I purchase one type of glass to serve both red and white wine? These are couple of the questions we receive on a regular basis regarding wine glasses.

Before we start talking about wine glasses, let's first remember the five Ss of wine tasting: see, swirl, smell, sip and swallow (or spit). First, you must be able to see the color of the wine. Second, have a glass big enough to swirl the wine to release the bouquet of the wine. Third, the glass should be large enough to allow your nose to smell the aromas of the wine on close inspection. Fourth, you must be able to easily sip the wine, and, finally, swallow (or spit) the wine.

All of these steps cannot be possible without a proper vessel, which brings us to the all-important wine glass. Wine glasses come in different shapes, sizes, thickness (weight) and prices.

To begin, a good quality wine glass should be clear without facets or etchings. This allows you to see the true color of the wine. Although very pretty, decorated or colored glasses will disguise the wine's color and is not recommended.

The next feature to consider when purchasing wine glasses is the size of the glass. A 10 to 12 ounce glass should be large enough for you to swirl the wine neatly to release all the wonderful aromas of the wine. Remember to fill the glass to the widest section of the bowl, usually halfway or less to allow you to swirl easily.

The classic wine glasses are balloon-shaped for red wines and tulip-shaped for whites. The wide bowl of a red wine glass provides a wider surface to allow oxygen to interact with the wine. The narrower tulip-shape keeps white wine cool and concentrates on the wine's delicate flavors and aromas. Both shapes allow you to smell and enjoy the aromas of the wine.

Another feature important to your wine tasting enjoyment is the thickness of the glass rim. A thin rimmed glass allows each sip to easily and effortlessly pour into your palate. The thicker the rim, the harder and longer it is for the wine to get to your palate. We have found after many years of tasting wine that the finer, more delicate the glass, the more we've enjoyed our wine.

Then there is the question of stem or no stem. Most wine glasses have stems. Holding the glass by the stem protects the wine from being warmed by your hands. Stemless wine glasses are a popular choice among younger wine enthusiasts. Although both types are acceptable, we still prefer the classic stem glasses.

Our vessel of choice when enjoying wine is a clear, thin rimmed wine glass with stem: 10 ounce for whites, 12 ounce for red. Unless you have the space and budget for more glasses, it really isn't necessary to have a different red wine glass for Burgundy, Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon, for instance. One good quality, 12 ounce wine glass will do the trick for these reds.

If you are fond of Champagne, sparkling wines or dessert wine, we recommend different glasses. A Champagne flute is typically tall and slender, designed so that it preserves the bubbles longer and captures the essence of the Champagne or sparkling wine. If you are a dessert wine lover, we recommended a six ounce glass that tapers at the top. A typical pour is two to two and one-half ounces, so the opening does not need to be very big. Port, on the other hand, can be served in regular wine glasses to allow for swirling.

There are many types of glasses and manufacturers; do not get overwhelmed by the selections. Just keep it simple: clear crystal glass, large bowl (for reds), and thin rimmed. A few notable manufacturers of fine wine glasses are Riedel ( and Schott Zwiesel ( Another brand is Eisch Breathable Glasses, which actually aerate the wine in the glass within two to four minutes. After many tastings using Eisch against other brands, we surprisingly found Eisch's claims to be very accurate. We love and use them at home.

One last word about glasses: rinse. Whether washing wine glasses by hand or in the dishwasher, make sure they are rinsed thoroughly in clean water. When storing glasses, store bowl up. This prevents the glass from trapping any stale smells.
To recap, your arsenal of glasses should include both a red and a white wine glass, and if you like Champagne or dessert wine one for each of those.



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