Yes, it can be so overwhelming at times that you just want to use a cup, but fear not – here's a purist's guide to drinking glasses for when you're out at a formal dinner or exclusive cocktail parties

Enhance the drinking experience by using the appropriate glass for every wine, liquor, and spirit you'll be serving. Beyond aesthetic purposes, there are sensible reasons for why every drink has a proper corresponding glass. Connoisseurs find that each glass has its unique characteristics that highlight the flavour, colour, and other qualities of a beverage. In this guide, we'll focus on the different types of wine glasses.

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1. Red Wine Glasses

Wine glasses nowadays have stemless variations. But, the stem elongates the glass and gives one something to hold on to. This avoids fingerprints on the bowl of the glass. More importantly, did you know that when you touch your wine glass by the bowl, it raises the wine's temperature? If you want to serve wine, and savour each sip at its full potential, then the right temperature is very important.

When choosing glass types for red wines, remember that the Burgundy wine glass is for lighter and more delicate red wines like Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, and Burgundy. Its thin rim makes it easy to drink from and the large bowl helps to collect the wine's flavours helping the drinker appreciate the lighter blends variety of aromas and notes. The glass has a slightly narrowed mouth, which helps direct wine to the right areas of your palate. You can interchange a Burgundy wine glass with a Pinot Noir glass, as it is also for light and delicate wines. However, its curvier and wider bowl and wider mouth can enable the wine to aerate better, thus improving flavour and aroma.

Bordeaux wine glasses are designed for the full-bodied and heavier range of red wines like Bordeaux blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and other bolder wines. It is tall, has a broad bowl, and directs wine to the back of one's mouth, which makes the wine less bitter and allows one to enjoy a wider flavour spectrum of the wine. The height and size of the design enables more oxygen to contact the wine, allowing for ethanol to dissipate, help the wine breathe, and allows helps a powerful wine's stronger tannins, soften. Another glass that you could use for wines like these is the Cabernet Sauvignon glass. It also has a broad bowl but a narrower rim compared to Bordeaux wine glasses. 

Meanwhile, more often than not standard red wine glasses have shorter stems, and are suitable for medium to full-bodied red wines. Its lower height and medium-sized bowl size allows the rich and complex flavours of wines like Zinfandel, Shiraz, Merlot, Chianti, and Malbec to soften up and meet the tongue continuously. While its slightly smaller opening helps to trap flavours and direct it to the palate. 

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2. White Wine Glasses

Generally, white wine glasses have slender and more upright bowls than red wine glasses. This shape allows the wine's aromas to be enhanced and preserved while also maintaining its cool temperature.

Sauvignon Blanc glasses are the most common you could get for white wines, and are best for light to medium-bodied acidic wines like, Pinot Grigio, Muscat Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and Sauvignon Blanc. Its slender bowl captures the delicate fruity and floral aromas and helps keep the wine cool, prevents as much oxygen from aerating the wine, while delivering flavour. Its rim's shape causes the tongue to curve, allowing one to detect the acidity the most. Plus, it invites a smoother sip, directing the wine towards the centre of the palate.

For wines with more complex notes such as white Burgundy, Montrachet, and Corton-Charlemagne, or a more buttery Chardonnay you should opt to use glasses with larger bowls like Montrachet glasses. This allows the complexities of the wine to interact with sufficient air and breathe better. Drinkers would also be able to smell the complex aromas better and have the wine touch both sides of the palate, allowing them to taste sour and acidic flavours.

Chardonnay wine glass on the other hand has a more balanced proportion of the bowl and opening. This is perfect for medium to full-bodied white wines like Chardonnay, Semillon, and Viognier. With the right amount of aeration, the wine will open up and have a balance of sweetness and acidity in the mouth.

See also: A Beginner's Guide to Wine Pairings

3. Dessert Wine Glasses

Meanwhile, for sweeter white wines like Riesling or Port or Sherry you may prefer using a standard dessert wine glass. Their narrow rim openings and small size are designed to not overwhelm one's mouth with the sweetness of the wine. Typically, they are slender in shape to make the wine more direct to the back of the mouth, allowing detection of the sweet notes. These are tall enough to let the drinker swirl it gently, thus releasing the aromas. Its shape is designed to let the wine slowly reach the centre of the mouth and further back, letting one taste the sweet notes at the right pace.

These glasses are also smaller in size because they cater to wines that have higher alcohol content. Their shapes are designed to not overwhelm the drinker with the delicate sweetness of the wine. 


4. Sparkling Wine and Champagne Glasses

Typically, glasses for dessert or sweet wine need to be upright and have narrow bowls to preserve carbonation and flavour. The most common is the flute wine glasses which we use for Cava, Prosecco, and Champagne. This type of glass is short to medium in stem length. This design helps its bubbles stick to the glass which helps give the beverage its flavour and essence. 

Tulip wine glasses are for mature sparkling wines. It has a wider bowl to help develop flavour, and smaller mouth that prevents excess carbonation from escaping while directing the aromas towards the tongue instead of the nose.

While the type of glass does impact the way a beverage is experienced and savoured, do not be too overwhelmed. What is important is to be sure to find what glassware fits your lifestyle and drink preference. 


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