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The Importance of Glassware - How Wine Glasses Play a Significant Role in Tasting

Updated: Jan 25, 2022

As bizarre as it may sound, the shape and size of the glass can make or break your wine. Using specific glassware is closely linked to a greater wine enjoyment. Although there is no rule book which tells you which wine to drink in which glass, but there is no doubt that drinking from a varietal specific wine glass definitely gives you greater wine enjoyment.

Claus J. Riedel, the ninth generation of the RIEDEL, was the first person to breakthrough the realisation of how the shape and size of the glass had a dramatic impact on the taste of the wine. He introduced the "Sommeliers" range, an award-winning series of glassware in 1973 with a long stem and a clear glass and gave the first notion of the varietal specific wine glass.

Shape of the Wine Glass

The anatomy of a wine glass has 3 main parts: the bowl, the stem and the foot.

The shape of the wine glass delivers the aromas and flavour profile. The geometry of the wine glass controls how the vapor rises from the wine thus influencing the perception of aromas of wine. Every part of the wine glass has a role to play in the wine tasting.

The Bowl

The bowl plays the most important role in wine tasting. The diameter of the rim of the bowl controls the amount of vapors that would be diffused from the wine and thus impart the amount of aromas you perceive. It releases and collects the aromas and the rim concentrates the scents of the wine.

The size of the bowl, and the surface area of the wine affects the amount of aromas that are released as they are collected between the lip of the glass and the wine. A thinner lip of the glass gives a better tasting experience and allows you to take sips without having to spill the wine.

The different sizes of the bowls are used to serve different kinds of wines

Wide Bowl Wine Glass

The RIEDEL Extreme Cabernet glass is the perfect example of a wide bowl wine glass which is mostly used to serve red wines made from grape varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. The reason behind this is that a bigger bowl tends to have a bigger surface area which allows aeration of the wine, light oxidation and lets you easily swirl the wine in the glass.

The rate of oxidation increases in a wider bowl as swirling takes place easily in it. And with the higher rate of oxidation smoothens the complex flavours of the wine which are usually present in Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlot. Thus, red wine glasses usually have a wider bowl to highlight their aromas.

In the words of Miximilian Riedel : "Big wines need big glasses".

This is also known as the Bordeaux glass as mostly Bordeaux wines that are bold and full-bodied are served in it.

Small Bowl Wine Glass

The RIEDEL Extreme Riesling/Sauvignon Blanc glass is the perfect example of a small bowl glass. A wine glass with a small bowl is mostly used for white wines that are light and crisp and are mostly made with Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc. This is because the white wines do not require to be oxidised as they are more delicate and a small bowl which has a lesser surface area helps in achieving that.

Also, a white wine should be served chilled between 7-10 ̊ C and a glass with a smaller bowl helps it to maintain that temperature so the wine can be enjoyed perfectly.

Broader Bowl Glass

The RIEDEL Performance Pinot Noir glass is the perfect Burgundy glass. It is broader than a Bordeaux glass and is a little curved at the rim. It is also known as the Pinot Noir glass and has a broader bowl that accumulates the delicate aromas of Pinot Noir. It provides an improved aromatic experience.

The rim of the glass is curved on top to balance the wine and its different flavours as it allows the wine to fall on the perfect taste buds in the middle of the tongue to bring out the ripe fruit and earthy aromas of pint. The size of the opening allows the wine to flow from one side of the palate to the other while bringing out the character of the wine in the right quantities.

Narrowed Bowl Glass

The RIEDEL Performance Champagne Glass is the perfect definition of a narrow bowled glass. It is just narrow mouthed to retain the elegant carbonation of sparkling wine. It helps in preserving the floral aromas of the wine, express more acidity and deliver the aromas directly to the nose.

It is also known as a Champagne flute or a Sparkling wine glas as the narrow bowl with a small mouth keeps the bubbles flowing and focuses on the fruit and yeast aromas.

The Stem

The stem of the wine glass plays an important role in maintaining the temperature of the wine and the aeration of the wine. It helps in swirling the wine for aeration and thus bringing out the aromas. The stem also helps you in holding the glass at the right angle so you taste the wine and smell the aromas at the same time.

Holding the wine glass from the stem avoids the bowl coming in contact with your hand otherwise it may end up changing the wine’s temperature. This is the reason white wine glasses and champagne flutes usually have a longer stem so that the temperature of the wine can be maintained while holding the glass.

This also avoids putting finger prints on the bowl of the glass an impeding you view of the beautiful colours it presents.

Although stemless wine glasses are also trending now, they are usually not preferred by wine professionals. They are an easy choice and are used for everyday enjoyment. However, they should not be used for high-quality wines or they may end up spoiling your tasting and aromatic experience.

Therefore, the shape of the wine glass plays a very important role in enveloping the aromas and affects how the wine is directed onto and delivered across the palate. An incorrectly shaped glass will distort the aroma profile and spoil the tasting experience.

Material of the Wine Glass

Something which you would have never noticed or thought of is the material with which the wine glass is made. The wine glass is either made with Glass or Crystal. Wine glasses in both the materials are widely available and have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Glass Wine Glass

A wine glass made with glass non-porous and inert thus not allowing the wine to come in contact with any chemicals. It does not corrode when it is washed in a dishwasher and thus becomes long-lasting. These glasses are affordable and more durable. When clinked with another glass it makes a clunking sound. These glasses are thicker and might affect the tasting experience of the wine.

Crystal Wine Glasses

A glass made from crystal is pricier and is higher in quality. The edge of the rim is slender which makes it look graceful and provides an enjoyable tasting experience. These glasses refract light better than the wine glass made with glass as they are thinner and more delicate and provide better wine ogling. They are also a lot lighter than glass. The crystal wine glasses that are lead-free can be easily washed in the dishwasher without getting corroded. Crystal wine glasses have a rougher surface that helps in bringing out more flavour and have no lip so that wine directly ends up getting to the tongue which is why the wine tastes better from a crystal glass

All the RIEDEL glasses are made with crystal.

Like Riedel says “Every bottle of wine is an investment in flavour and using a glass specifically designed to enjoy that wine means you are getting the most out of your investment.”

So get ready to invest in some stunning glassware for your bar or cellar and make the most of your tasting experience. While purchasing your glasses, keep these 3 things in mind

  1. Focus on your favourite grape varietals and which you tend to drink more often so you can purchase glassware suitable for that varietal

  2. Make sure the bowl is big enough to accommodate the wine aromas

  3. Always purchase glassware that is dishwasher safe.

Time to pour your favourite w

ine and clink these beautiful glasses!

To shop for RIEDEL wine glasses and know more about glassware, Follow @awineadventure on Instagram or Subscribe to our mailing list and stay updated!



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