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Wine glasses really do make difference Home / What's New / others

Wine glasses are an integral part of the wine experience. That is a pretty strong statement but it is absolutely true. We spent many years scoffing at wine snobs with their special glasses, but in truth we were very, very wrong.

The error of our ways was dramatically pointed out to us by Maximilian Riedel, the CEO of Riedel Crystal of America, representing the eleventh generation of fine wine- glass makers. He gave us a premier education in wine glassware that so impressed us, we must pass it on. Riedel declares that glassware is the messenger of wine and "every wine deserves the perfect messenger."

We began our journey into wine glassware with a simple but dramatic test. We tasted a cabernet sauvignon in a Riedel Bordeaux glass (the proper glass for a cab), a Riedel Chardonnay glass and a simple, everyday, run of the mill generic wine glass.

In the Bordeaux glass, all of the subtle nuances of the wine were open and obvious in both taste and aroma. In the Chardonnay glass, the wine was tight and closed in and displaying very few of the attributes that one buys a cab for.

The really dramatic effect was the generic glass. All that we could smell and taste was vanilla and oak with absolutely none of the fruit showing up at all. It was truly an eye-opener.

Another shocker was the fact that the proper glass directs the wine to the place on the tongue to best taste that particular wine. This is due, in part, to the shape of the bowl, but also to the fact that there is no rim on the glass.

The rim, that rolled edge at the top of the glass, creates turbulence as the wine enters the mouth and spreads the wine across the entire tongue rather than directing it to specific taste areas. Run your fingers around the rim or your wine glass, if it is rolled or you can feel or see a rim , it is not a good glass for wine, regardless of what you paid for it.

We learned that one should never fill a wine glass to the brim. The proper amount is only two or three ounces, so the wine aroma has plenty of room to expand in the glass and develop its full potential.

Then there is color. Any color other than clear is not acceptable for a wine glass, so that lets out Aunt Sophie's purple wine glasses with the grape leaves on the stem that you inherited.
The less-expensive wine glasses are made of common glass and have an often unnoticed, usually green tint to them. Look down at the rim of the glass, in good light, and you will see color on an improper wine glass. There is also the question of the thickness of the glass: the thinner the better. Lead-glass or as it is commonly known, crystal glass, is the best. It is colorless and can be made extremely thin while retaining its strength.

Riedel of Austria is the premier wine-glass maker in the world. Riedel has gone so far as to design glasses specifically for different varieties of wine. The company has made it a little easier to afford better wine glasses by having three separate categories, in three different price ranges. For further information on wine glassware or Riedel glassware, go to the Web site at http://www.riedel.com/website/english/frameset/frameset.html.

One final point about wine glasses: while good wineglasses dramatically enhance the enjoyment of any wine, their cost can be high.

Get just enough glasses to satisfy the number of people who regularly enjoy wine at your table and in the varieties you most enjoy. In our case, that number is two, so we purchased two wine glasses of several different types, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and pinot noir, without breaking the bank. When we have company, they get the "other" wine glasses.

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