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Wine glasses

Do we really need a different glass for every type of wine? Are there basic rules to follow? If you want the best possible wine appreciation experience, the short answer is Yes.
Although the perfect wine glass is yet to be invented, the various options available cater to a wide range of sensory perceptions.
An appreciation of wine is inconceivable without glass. Plastic or other materials should be avoided at all costs. It is astonishing how differently the same wine can be perceived depending on the shape of the glass from which it is drunk.
The ratio of the diameter of the bowl at its widest point (maximum filling level) to the volume of air in the glass is crucial to allow the aromas to unfold. An enormous variety of glassware is available to buy. The shape of the glass – the height of the bowl, the diameter at the filling level etc. – is carefully designed to allow us to enjoy wine to the full. All glassware is shaped so as to bring out the character of a wine and the particular grape variety.
Standardized tasting glasses are common at wine tasting events. These are developed in consultation with sommeliers and experienced restaurateurs. In the past the INAO glass was widely used, but today the new DIN wine tasting glass is increasingly gaining ground. At blind tastings, a black wine glass enables a more objective evaluation.

These four types of glasses are all you need and should be in every wine lover's home

  1. The balloon-style red wine glass presents a greater surface area which allows the wine to breathe, while tapering in towards the rim funnels aromas to the drinker's nose.
  2. A smaller, tulip-shaped glass for white wines. White wine glasses have a smaller volume to allow delicate aromas to open up and also to prevent the wine rapidly warming as it tends to be drunk more quickly.
  3. A slim, slightly bulbous sparkling wine glass or a flute which preserves effervescence and allows the delicate bubbles to be seen as they rise up in the glass.
  4. A small short-stemmed glass for fortified wines like port, sherry, Madeira, dessert wines and the like.
Most wine regions have their own traditional styles of wine glass which are not always ideal for wine appreciation.

The perfect wine glass

  • Is made of thin glass which is clear and smooth so the colour, brightness and brilliance of the wine can be readily appreciated. Any engraving or embellishment would make objective evaluation impossible.
  • Has a sufficiently long stem.
  • The bowl narrows towards the top, concentrating delicate aromas before they hit the nose.

Rules for handling glassware

  • Make sure your glasses are completely free of smells.
  • Only fill glasses to the widest point of the bowl; this is usually about a third of the way up.
  • Hold glasses by the stem or base only. The warmth of your hands also influences the temperature of the wine and consequently affects the aromas. The clarity of the glass can also be reduced by oily smears transferred from your hands and fingers.
  • Swirling the glass aerates the wine and intensifies the aromas.
  • Wash your glasses carefully, preferably by hand. Avoid any detergent residues (this can stop bubbles forming in fizzy wine), and always rinse in clean water. Dry glasses with a lint-free glass cloth.
  • Set glasses on the table in the order of the courses, from the outside in.
Text: List Medien AG/Belinda Stublia

History of the modern wine glass

The wine glass as we know it today emerged in the 1950s. After it was recognized that the size and shape of a glass influence the enjoyment of wine, modern glasses became thin-rimmed and clear with a smooth surface.
The first such glass was developed by Riedel in 1958 specifically for particular grape varieties. Up until then, it was only fashion, the availability of materials and production capabilities that had determined the appearance of wine glasses. The alabaster chalices of ancient Egypt are thought to have been the original model for the glass goblet. The invention of the glassmaker's blowpipe at the beginning of the 1st century CE made it possible to form glass in any shape. Glass soon flourished and displaced ceramic and metal beakers. Today's fine, thin-rimmed and long-stemmed wine glasses date back to 16th century Venice. After some detours via Baroque and Art Nouveau, nowadays a wide variety of wine-friendly glasses are available.
Your wine expert Jan Schwarzenbach