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TheWineBuyingGuide.com

Serving Wine: 3 Reasons Why Wine Glass Shape Matters

You might be surprised by the effect on your wine tasting.

By: Kristin Anderson, Editor, TheWineBuyingGuide.com
3 Reasons Why Wine Glass Shape Matters
3 Reasons Why Wine Glass Shape Matters
This image courtesy of thewinebuyingguide.com

Have you ever had to improvise, when it comes to wine glasses? It happens to the best of us. We’ve maybe even enjoyed the novelty of sipping wine from water glasses, coffee mugs, or even plastic cups. While your overall experience may have been good, you perhaps didn’t know that those plastic cups affected the taste of the wine.
 
While it may seem strange, your wine glass affects the taste of your wine. The material, shape, and even size of the glass changes how you experience the wine’s aroma and flavor. Because of this, your experience in tasting wine can be improved with the right stemware.
 
How does the shape of a wine glass affect the taste of a wine? The shape of the wine glass affects the temperature, aroma, and flavor notes of a wine. Because of this, when serving wine you should pour different types of wine in different styles of wine glass. Learn more below about why wine glass shape matters and how to choose the best stemware for your favorite wine.

Why Wine Glass Shape Matters when Serving Wine

Temperature

The size and shape of a wine glass affects the temperature of the wine. If you want to keep your wine cool, then a smaller bowl is best. A small bowl exposes less area on the surface of the wine, preventing the wine from warming to room temperature.
 
Because white wine tastes better when cool, white wine should be served in a glass with a smaller bowl. Red wine is usually served close to room temperature, and so a wider bowl is fine for glass that holds red wine.
 
Tip: Gripping the wine glass by the stem, rather than the bowl, keeps the wine temperature from rising from the heat of your hands.

Aroma

The size and shape of a wine glass also affects how aromas travel to the nose. In other words, it affects how the wine smells.
 
A large, wide bowl allows bold aromas to come into contact with air before reaching the nose. This increases the nuance of the aromas, while allowing strong ethanol aromas to dissipate. For these reasons, red wine is often served in glasses with wide, large bowls. The bold aromas will be more enjoyable, and the alcohol smell will be subtler.
 
A smaller bowl is beneficial for white wines for opposing reasons. A smaller bowl brings delicate floral aromas closer to the drinker’s nose so that they can be more appreciated. The cool temperature of the white wine also dampens the aromas of the wine, and so it’s better to bring the surface of the wine a little closer to the nose.

Taste

This is the one you were waiting for, right? For red wines, a larger bowl and wider opening help mitigate overwhelming spice and the bitterness of tannins when tasting wine. This usually produces a smoother taste for red wines. For the taste of white wines, the temperature of the wine has a big impact. The smaller bowl of a white wine glass keeps the white wine cool and tasting its best.

Many varieties of wine actually have their own distinct glass shape, which are available for purchase. However, simply having a set of red wine glasses and a set of white wine glasses will go a long way toward having a better experience when you’re serving wine.

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I never realized that I should be holding my wine glass by the stem rather than the bowl - that's good to know! I was considering buying some of those stemless wineglasses, but now I might rethink my purchase. Thanks for the tip!

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