Out of all the wine products on the market, the one that might make the biggest difference in one’s encounter with a wine is the glass. To the untrained eye, stemware might appear to be randomly sized and shaped. However, each glass is designed with a purpose and specific style of wine in mind. Matching the proper glassware to a specific wine is crucial to enjoy a wine to its fullest potential.
For example, why are champagne/sparkling wine glasses long and narrow? Champagne flutes are designed with a narrow shape to lock in as much of the carbonation as possible. A wider glass would allow the signature bubbles to escape faster.
The stemware used for both white and red wines looks similar. However, upon closer examination, you will notice that white wine glasses tend to be narrower and smaller in general. The reason white wine glasses are often smaller is to prevent oxidization. A smaller glass means less wine exposed to the air, ultimately preserving the delicate flavors in a white wine.
While oxidization is prevented with a small white wine glass, red wine glasses are often designed to do the exact opposite. If you have ever heard someone say “they’re waiting for a wine to open up,” or that a specific wine “needs to breathe a bit,” you’ve probably heard someone waiting for the oxidization to bring out flavors and characteristic in red wine that are often not present when a bottle is first opened. To help this process along, the larger bowl of most red wine glasses allows for maximum wine to air contact.
While there are sub categories of each type of glass, this overview has hopefully highlighted the benefits proper glassware can have on a wine and why it is important to make sure you pair your wines with the right glass.