There are an infinite number of wine styles, white or red, light-footed or bold, acidic and refreshing or decadently sweet. It comes as no surprise that there are wine glasses for each style. After all, you wouldn’t eat steak with a spoon, would you?
Wine glasses play a significant role in wine enjoyment, mainly because their shape captures the aromas brimming out of the wine, allowing us to catch them in a whiff.
At our private winery tours to the Yarra Valley, our guests experience it all, from thin, delicate, universal crystal glasses to others designed especially for Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. And we’ve heard from the winemakers themselves what they think of the different glasses on the market. Here’s all you need to know about what type of wine glass goes with each style.
Glass VS Crystal
The first thing to consider is the material used to make a wine glass. Glass is a translucent material used to make jars and bottles, and producers sometimes make some wine glasses with it. You’ll notice them immediately since they’re sturdier and not that delicate. These are common in large wine tastings, massive events or Margarita bars. After all, they’re resistant, and of course, they are stronger.
Crystal glasses, sometimes mouth-blown, are a whole other matter, these glasses can be expensive, but they’re light as a feather and as thin as glass can get.
Traditionally it was the addition of lead to the glass, this makes the crystal so refined yet resistant, although now you’ll find plenty of lead-free wine glasses.
The wine glass styles below are all crystal glasses since they’re the finest way of enjoying wine. See which suits your needs.
White wine glasses
White wine glasses are smaller than their red counterparts since white wine is supposed to be served cold, meaning you don’t want to fill the glass to the rim, but refill it with a few ounces often to preserve the temperature.
White wine is often less aromatic than red wine, so the wine doesn’t need as much space as a red to show its charm. Use these to serve Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc or Pinot Grigio.
There’s an exception. Chardonnay, the queen of white grapes, can be full-bodied and expressive, mostly when aged in oak barrels. This grape deserves a broad-vased wine glass to capture all the vanilla and golden apple aromas.
Red wine glasses
Red wine glasses are taller and larger than the ones used for white since you often have to swirl the wine to get it to release all those berry aromas, spices and hints of undergrowth trapped in the concentrated liquid.
You don’t want to serve red wine ice cold but slightly chilled, so you can pour it more generously without having to worry about its temperature.
A tall chimney-shaped bowl is typical for structured red like Cabernet and Shiraz, and balloon-shaped, broad vases are more adequate for aromatic red grapes like Pinot Noir.
Bubbly wines are better enjoyed in a white wine glass since there, more often than not, white wines. Of course, the delicate streams of pearly bubbles show their best in tall, slim champagne flutes, but it’s a personal preference.
Sweet and fortified wines benefit from smaller wine glasses, they’re often so sweet that an ounce or so is enough to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Finally, we have universal wine glasses sitting right between white wine glasses and red wine glasses. These are common in wine tastings, and it’s easy to see why — they’re versatile.
Start buying a set of these and build your wine collection with more spectacular pieces with time. At the end of the day, you’re the one ultimately deciding what wine glasses to use for a particular wine, but the glass used will make a difference to the wine tasting experience.
Come visit the Yarra Valley wine country with Chauffeur Drive, Melbourne Yarra Valley private winery tours, to experience wine tasting in the very same place where wine is produced. By getting to know the people that make your favourite wine, you’ll learn more in a day than what you can learn in a week at home. They offer some tips about wine glasses too!