Tips for Wine Glass Pairings

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Before a fine wine passes the lips and intrigues the palate, the seduction begins with the pour. Anticipation stirs with the pop of the cork and the sound of the splash in the glass. The eyes succumb to the color that provides a clue to the grapes used and the vintage. The alluring swirl hints at the alcohol content via the presence or absence of “legs,” while the wine’s distinctive bouquet rises from the glass to tantalize the olfactory senses. As a wine reveals its secrets through sight, sound, smell and taste, quaffing from the right “wine and glass pairing” will ensure a fulfilling feast for the senses.

Red wine glassware

Depending on the characteristics of your red wine varietal, there are two styles of red wine glasses to choose from, Bordeaux or Burgundy. The Bordeaux wine glass is tall with a deep bowl, tapered sides and a flat rim. It’s designed for aroma-savoring and delivering big, bold, hearty reds to the center of the palate, emphasizing the perfect balance of fruit and acidity while softening the tannins. Wine-lovers will best appreciate the full complexity of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti, Rioja, Cab Franc, Merlot and of course Bordeaux in this glass. The height and wider top allows much more oxygen to enter the glass which is great for wines with higher alcohol content that often need swirling action and room to breathe.

The Burgundy wine glass is designed to capture the delicacy of wines derived from Pinot Noir grapes. The wider bowl allows for more aeration and for the aromas to gather. The sides taper inward to direct the full perfume-y bouquet and complexity to the nose. The rolled rim aids in delivering these sweeter wines to the tip of the tongue.

White wine glassware

The white wine glass also known as the Chardonnay wine glass is like a smaller version of the Bourdeaux glass with a narrower bowl and rim. White wines are more delicate than reds, so smaller glasses enable their subtle bouquets to reach the nose. The design of the glass helps to keep the white wines chilled longer.

Champagnes and sparkling wine glassware

New thinking is emerging among champagne and sparkling wine-quaffers. They’re trading the traditional narrower cylindrical flute for the tulip-shaped flute. It is a bit wider in the middle, tapering to a narrow top. With the traditional flute, the effervescence can be a bit overwhelming, whereas with the new design you can discern more aroma and flavor, making it easier to digest. Try a side by side comparison of the same wine in both styles of glasses to experience the difference and see which you prefer.

Dessert wine glassware

Dessert wines or aperitifs tend to be very sweet and typically, not a lot is consumed. Therefore, only small stemware of about 6 ½ inches in height is needed. There are several styles to choose from. The sherry glasses tend to look somewhat similar to the champagne flute, while the classic port glass has the wider bowl and gently tapers to the rim. Also, often used for port, the multi-purpose dessert wine glass have lovely, graceful shape more akin to a smaller Burgundy glass. Dessert wine-glasses can be used more interchangeably among apertifs, so it really is about which style most appeals to you.

Pros and cons of stemless wine glasses

Stemless wineglasses can look either modern and elegant or refreshingly casual. Stemless wine glasses are very practical for avoiding spills or just kicking back and enjoying casual wine-drinking, not necessarily as a connoisseur. If you are walking around with a stemless glass, do set it down often so your body temperature doesn’t affect the wine as much. Stemless glassware creates a beautiful table setting and wine glasses are likely to be held for only a few moments, with the least impact on the wine and certainly makes it easier to pass serving dishes around the table. Stemless glasses are designed with all the same features as stemware for red and white wines, sans the stems.

Glassware for a wine-tasting party

If you’re hosting a wine-tasting party, there’s no need to use your expensive wine glasses. Visit IKEA or a discount store and choose stemware in a small size. Lining up glassware for wine flights will take up less space and you won’t mind if a few get broken. Remember, you aren’t going for big pours and small pours won’t be lost in the glass. Guests will feel like they consumed more wine before becoming too tipsy.

Multi-purpose wine glasses

If you’re just starting out, choose the Bourdeaux style wine glass of the highest quality that you can afford. This is considered the entry-level multi-purpose wine glass.

Experiment with different wine glasses for yourself. You will be surprised to find how the same wine can taste much different based on the glass.