By Ryan Snyder on March 18, 2005
Category: Wine for Newbies
While choosing the wine is certainly important, one of the most-overlooked areas of wine consumption is how to serve the wine. It’s not as simple as other beverages where you can simply pop the top of a can or bottle and chug directly from the lip, at least not without the paper bag surrounding the bottle. With good wine, you’ll notice each sip provides a different taste or sensation, and how we serve the wine can directly affect our experience with that wine.
My friend Joe and I were sipping a bottle of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon when he said, “Someone told me that you’re supposed to use a different glass for each type of wine. Isn’t that a bunch of bull?” I thought about it for a while and responded, “Well, yes and no. Wine glasses are made in different shapes and sizes meant specifically for certain types of wine. The shape of the glass determines how the aromas will be concentrated and where the wine hits the tongue as it enters your mouth. Any wine glass will work fine, because you can swish the wine around in your mouth to make sure it hits all of your taste buds. But if I’m opening a $100 bottle, I want to make sure I use the right glass so I can get every penny’s worth out of that wine.”
In 1961, Claus Riedel found that each style of wine has its own unique qualities, including fruit, acidity, minerals, tannins, alcohol and terroir and began shaping glasses specifically for each of the major styles of wine. By tailoring each glass towards the characteristics of a specific wine, Mr. Riedel was able to concentrate the most desirable flavors and aromas to provide the most pleasurable experience for each wine. Tannic reds and full-bodied whites are best in glasses with a more narrow mouth which directs the wine to the center of the tongue allowing many elements to be expressed at once, including fruit, acidity and tannins. Meanwhile, red and white wines that are lighter-bodied, fruit-forward or higher in acidity show better in glasses with a wider mouth that will direct the wine to the tip of the tongue to emphasize the fruit and lessen the acidity.