Does the shape of your wine glass really matter?

Wine glasses

In the wine world there are different kinds of drinkers. From casual imbibers to wine aficionados, the market encompasses many different types of customer.

Wine enthusiasts often say that the kinds of glassware we use to drink from is almost as important as the wine chosen. But is that true? After all, you can enjoy a glass of wine from a teacup if you choose!

It’s all in the shape

While you can, of course, drink your wine from any kind of vessel, it turns out that wine glass shape does matter. This is because of the way wines react when exposed to air. The shape of the glass or receptacle will alter the way it reacts to air, changing the nose, structure and body of the wine.

For example, a tall Bordeaux wine glass is specially designed for wines with a fuller body. Examples include a Cabernet Sauvignon or Sauvignon Blanc, which have a deep aroma and full body texture. The shape of the glass concentrates the aroma and directs the swig of wine into the back of the mouth. A Burgundy wine glass, on the other hand, works more efficiently with wines that are delicate in flavour. This is due to the larger bowl of the glass, which helps the gentler aroma of wines such as Pinot Noir to accumulate and become more intense.

Reds more complex

Red wines have a complex, multi-faceted structure and a larger wine glass bowl helps the drinker to fully appreciate this. A larger glass means that the wine can be swirled more without overflowing, therefore helping it to be exposed to the air and release aromas.

Usually, glasses designed for red wines offer a wider rim, which again exposes the wine more easily to the air. When wine is aerated, its structure transforms as the tannins break down to improve the bouquet. A wider rim acts like a vent and can either release or trap the bouquet as required, depending on the glass design.

Influencing flavour

While it’s difficult to prove the traditional idea that the shape of a wine glass can physically deliver the wine to a different part of the mouth, the shape and size of the glass itself definitely influences the taste of the wine.

If you take a sip from a glass with a wide opening, then the aroma will reach your nose just as the wine touches your tongue. This double whammy can make a definite difference to the flavour of the wine, and it also allows for more aeration.

The increase in aeration alters the flavour of the wine in the nose and on the tongue, particularly if you’re drinking a more complex and older vintage. Stemless glasses are generally less damaging to the flavour of reds than whites, but they do alter the flavour of both due to the warming effect of being held in the hand.