The Truth About Wine Glass Shapes: Do They Matter?
Whether you're a bride creating a wedding registry, a college student furnishing your first apartment, or a wine lover just trying to upgrade your current selection--- shopping for glassware can be daunting! Riesling, Bordeaux, Burgundy- it seems like there's an endless parade of wine glass styles out there... and those of us living in tight spaces that don't have Downton-Abbey-level crystal storage quarters might ask- does it even matter what kind of glass you drink your wine out of?
As someone that has consumed wine out of many a Solo cup and also the finest lead crystal- the answer is... sort of.
The Philosophy Behind Specialty Glasses
The idea behind the specialty glasses is that the shape really does affect the way we perceive the flavor: varietal-specific glasses are technically engineered to focus or diffuse the aromas in the glass to optimally showcase that particular wine. 90% of taste is actually smell, so this can have a true effect on your drinking experience.
Additionally, various glass shapes change the way the liquid hits your tongue: a glass with a narrower opening might focus liquid in a more linear way straight through the back of your palate, versus a wide-mouth glass where the juice rolls across your tongue in a wave. Wine structurizers like alcohol, acid, and tannins are sensations you can feel, not flavors- when they hit different parts of your mouth it's a dramatic shift in the experience. The right glassware can help balance out these factors and elevate a wine to shine its brightest.
Which Wine Glasses Should You Buy?
Honestly, my expert opinion on this comes down 'want' vs 'need'. I don't think you need Carson the Butler from Downton Abbey on hand to select your proper glassware each night at home (save that for fancy dinners out and let us somms take care of that for you).
If your home bar is more IKEA than English Heritage Antique, all you really need is a solid set of universal glasses. WITH stems- as cute as the stemless tumblers are, stemmed glasses are way more elegant and more importantly, keep the wine from heating up in your hands. If you want to diversify, one set of larger-bowl glasses for red and one of narrower for white will do the trick. One of my favorite glassware brands, Reidel, has a line called 'Vivant' at Target, which is great and affordable. I also like CB2 and of course TJ Maxx/Marshalls/Home Goods as spots to score affordable to stylish glasses.
If you do happen to have the space and budget for a whole glassware collection, check out my gallery of Lush Life-approved wine glasses here. Cheers!