There are almost as many different types of wine glasses as there are wines, and with good reason. Wine glasses are designed to help develop the bouquet of flavors and aromas of wine and to make drinking wine more enjoyable with every sip. There are wine glasses available for all the major wine varietals including Champagne, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. Depending on the characteristics of the wine, the design of the wine glass bowl is designed to allow the wine to ‘breathe’ and to develop its flavors. Additionally, the shape of the glass affects how you actually drink the wine and helps direct the wine to your taste buds. Wine glasses, like wines themselves. have fun histories and stories too. Just like buying wine, buying wine glasses should be enjoyable, and there are beautiful glasses that you can buy to suit every budget. But if you feel a little unsure, I’ve put together a list of things you’ll want to consider before you buy glasses and have noted the basic wine glass styles.
Glass or Crystal?
When you choose wine glasses before you even consider which type or how many to get, you first have to choose between glass or crystal. Wine glasses made of glass are more affordable and they are also more durable, while crystal glasses are more expensive and somewhat fragile. Glass can be put in the dishwasher, but crystal should be hand washed. Crystal glasses typically reflect more light and are shinier, however a good quality glass also makes a wonderful wine glass.
Storage & Quantity
You’ll want to make sure you have a storage space for your wine glasses. Do you have storage for your glasses in your cupboards? Are the shelves tall enough for your new glasses? If you don’t have storage in your cupboards look at glass racks that you either place on top of your cupboards or attach underneath.
How many wine glasses you need depends on how often and how many people drink wine at your house. You can buy individual glasses, sets or multiple sets. Often wine glasses are sold in sets of 4 or 6; buy as many as you think you will need, and be sure to look into identical individual glasses that match your set in case one breaks and you need a replacement.
What Style of Glass to Buy?
The style of glass that you buy, depends on what type of wine you drink. Wine glasses are available with or without the stem. While the stemless glasses are very pretty and can be quite functional, it is harder to hold the glass up and observe the color of the wine. Wine glasses have three parts; the bowl, the stem and the foot. Stemless glasses have no stem and no separate foot.
There are different styles of glasses for different types of wines. Wine glasses come in many different styles such as flute, tulip, coupe, tumbler and hock in addition to the standard shape. The different styles are also available in different sizes usually from 6 ounces to 12 ounces.
Red Wine Glasses
Red wine glasses traditionally have a wide bowl at the bottom of the glass. This makes swirling the wine easier without the wine sloshing out of the glass as well as allowing the wine to aerate. Red wine glasses are available with or without a stem.
White Wine Glasses
White wine glasses typically have a smaller bowl than red wine glasses in order to concentrate the delicate aromas. White wine glasses are available with or without a stem. The tulip style glass, where the bowl of the glass is wider than the lip, is popular for trapping the delicate aromas of white wine.
Glasses for Champagne and Sparkling Wine
Champagne and Sparkling Wine glasses are available in a flute or coupe shape. The coupe glass was designed in the 1600’s and has a shallow wide bowl, while the flute is tall and narrow. The flute style is more popular, as the champagne or sparkling wine keeps its carbonation longer in the narrow glass. Although the design of the coupe is not the best for champagne it does have a fun history; the shape of the bowl is said to have been modeled after Marie Antoinette’s breast and coupes were popular during the 1920’s to make champagne towers, where champagne was poured into the top glass and trickled over and down to fill up all of the other glasses.
Building your Collection
Start by buying a few glasses to go with the wines you drink most frequently and then add to your collection overtime, just as you do when buying wines. Buy glasses that are in your budget and store them safely, so they don’t get broken or used for daily drinking of milk or juice. Remember to give your wine glasses a wash and a polish before use so you can see the color of the wine and enjoy the aromas in a clean smudge free glass.