An introduction to wine glasses

Written By

February 22nd 2019

You don’t need to be a wine writer, a winemaker or an expert to taste the difference when drinking fine wine out of the right glass.

To try this yourself you can pour a drop of wine into a tumbler and then another one into a wine glass that has a stem, a wide bowl and a narrower rim. Swirl the wine, smell it, have a taste and then compare it. I will wager that in the tumbler the aromas disperse, and the flavours lose their intensity, much more quickly.

So, what are the basic requirements of a good wine glass? Firstly, it has to be plain, uncoloured and clear so you can appreciate the colour and clarity of a wine. Smell is vital to the enjoyment and appreciation of a wine, allowing us to identify so many different flavours. By swirling the wine in an appropriate glass, the aromas collect in the bowl and are retained because of the narrower opening. The stem allows you to hold the glass without affecting the wine’s temperature which is an important factor when you sample wine. It also helps to rotate the glass, and this movement is important for releasing the best of the wine’s bouquet. Finally, although there is a lot of debate as to the actual effect of glass thickness on the drinking experience, we find a fine rim enhances the enjoyment of any wine.

Of the many different wine glasses available, there are specific shapes of glasses which have been designed to suit certain types of wine. Of course, the right glass really depends on your needs. Many winemakers we visit during our trips use Zalto for tasting in their cellars as well as in their homes.

If you are not planning on investing in an extensive glassware collection with a different glass for every grape variety, we would recommend any of the following, from Riedel, John Jenkins and Zalto. These are the glasses we have in our tasting room at Goedhuis & Co and use at home.

glasses-john-jenkins-etoile-tall-burgundy-zalto-universal-riedel-sangiovese-riesling

1. John Jenkins Etoile Tall Burgundy:
A Goedhuis favourite because of its charming design, slender stem and full bowl. It is robust but light enough to handle well and perfectly suited to both white and red Burgundy. Jancis Robinson MW came to a Burgundy lunch a few months ago and enjoyed the wine out of these glasses so much that she wanted to know where we got them from.

2. Zalto Universal:
If you want to treat yourself, these Zalto glasses are absolutely gorgeous. They are incredibly light, versatile and supremely elegant. We can only agree with the manufacturer’s comment “simply brings out the best in any wine.”

3. Riedel Sangiovese/Riesling:
Despite their name, these glasses are the house choice for any of our tasting events and are brilliantly suited to pretty much any wine or grape variety. If you are only buying one set of glasses, this should be it.