What's the science behind wine glass shapes?
Winemakers explains which wine glass shapes are key to use if you”re serious about your wine tasting experience.
Article source: MotherNatureNetwork
- The base: The base quite possibly is the easiest of all the parts to understand. It makes sure the glass doesn”t tip over. Don”t cry over spilt milk but spilt wine is another story.
- The stem: The stem serves two distinct purposes. The first is to allow the drinker to hold the glass without touching the bowl. If you hold a wine glass by the bowl you risk heating the wine from your body temperature. It”s not ideal, especially for wines that need to be served cool or cold. If you feel your wine is too cold, cupping the bowl is the most effective way to warm the wine up.The second is holding the glass by the stem will keep the drinker”s hands away from the rim of the glass. Our hands have their own unique scent which most of the time is increased in intensity through the use of fragrant soaps, lotions and perfumes. These scents can overpower, mask or change the aromas from the wine so the design of the stem allows these scents to stay as far away from the drinker”s nose as possible while still allowing for adequate control of the glass. Some professionals even go as far as to hold the base rather than the stem for this reason.
- The bowl: The bowl of the glass is where the wine is settled. The best glasses have a wider bowl than rim to allow for proper swirling. The swirl releases volatile aroma compounds and creates a vortex in the center of the glass towards which these compounds are drawn. When the drinker then puts their nose in the glass after the swirl they sniff in a concentrated amount of the aromas directly out of the glass. This allows for even the most nuanced of aromas to be detected. The larger the bowl, the more surface area the wine can cover. The more surface area the greater amount of volatile compounds can be released. Keep in mind that a wine glass usually shouldn”t be filled to more than one-third the total height of the bowl in order to have proper swirling room. Otherwise you risk losing your wine in a wild swirling accident and again, avoid the spilt wine at all costs!
- The rim: This rim is the point where the wine makes contact with the taster”s mouth. The thinner the rim of the glass the more seamless this transition is and the more the taster can focus on the perception of the wine in their mouth and less on the feel of the glass.
Whites will typically have a smaller bowl and will be a bit smaller in size than reds. Reds will have a wider bowl but may be shorter overall than the whites. For tasting, I only use one glass shape. I can adequately evaluate the wines — red, white, rose, sparkling or fortifieds — with the single one. But, if I”m sitting down to a nice dinner with wine I generally like to have specialized glasses.
- Red: Look for a wide bowl and a narrow rim. You also want the glass to be fairly tall to allow for a generous swirl. Older reds can occasionally benefit from being poured in a white wine glass to capture the more delicate flavors.
- White: Look for a narrower bowl than a red glass, however it should still have a narrow rim. White wine glasses absolutely need a stem. I can”t stand drinking chilled white wine out of a stemless glass.
- Sparkling: As I mentioned before, you can use a white wine glass for the sparkling wine. However, let”s face it. Nothing spruces up your evening at home like a flute of sparkling wine. For sparkling wines, look for a long, narrow, elegant bowl. Look for flutes that have an etching in the base to allow for the bubbles to form. This is called nucleation. Bubbles will only form on surfaces that are not perfectly smooth which is why with very clean wine glasses you sometimes don”t see any bubbles at all if they are not etched. The height of the bowl allows the bubbles to stay in solution more easily. This keeps the wine from going flat quickly. It”s not important to be able to swirl sparkling wine. The bubbles will bring the aromas to the top of the glass for you to smell without swirling.