Are you a glass-half-full or half-empty kind of person?
If you’ve ever wondered why wine glass shapes are a big deal, we’re here to help clarify. Through a number of testings and experiments, experts have found that the shape of the glass has the ability to concentrate the wine’s aroma, further intensifying the varietal characteristics. How can we say no to that?!
Typically, glasses are composed of three parts: the bowl, stem, and foot. Key factors that drive the shape of the bowl are the release of aromas, the collection of aromas, and the lip. As the alcohol volatilizes at the wine’s surface, aromas are released. The space between the wine and the glass’s lip is where aromas are collected. Generally, red wines have larger bowls to highlight their aromas. To maintain their temperature, white wines have smaller bowls. The lip of the glass is usually made quite thin so it’s out of the way and doesn’t affect the drinker’s experience.
Now that we’ve discussed the general guidelines, let’s get down to the specific, nitty-gritty differences in wine glass shapes!
Let’s break it down!
Red Wine Glasses
By now you know that red wine glasses have wider, rounder bowls. You may not know that these bowls are intended to increase the rate of oxidation. Oxidation allows the complex flavors found in red wines to be smoothed. (Psst! Visit our blog post for information about decanting wine!) Some examples of red wine glasses include:
Bordeaux glass: This tall, broad bowled glass is designed for bold, full-bodied red wines like our Black Girl Magic Red Blend, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The wide opening helps smooth the flavor and allows the ethanol to evaporate.
“Standard” red wine glass: This glass is ideal for medium to full-bodied reds, especially those with spicy notes. Use this glass to sip on Zinfandel, Malbec, Syrah (Shiraz), and Petite Sirah.
Burgundy glass: The Burgundy glass is broader than the Bordeaux glass. It’s bigger bowl accumulates delicate aromas, like from Pinot Noir.
White Wine Glasses
Compared to red wine glasses, white wine glasses vary quite a bit in shape and size, from the tapered Champagne flute to the wide and shallow glasses used to enjoy Chardonnay.
Similar to red wine glasses, wide-mouthed glasses promote rapid oxidation. Chardonnays, like McBride Sisters Collection Chardonnay, are best served slightly oxidized.
Lighter, crisp wines shouldn’t be oxidized as much, in order to preserve the clean flavor. Look for wine glasses with a smaller mouth intended to reduce the surface area of the wine. Use these glasses for our delicate McBride Sisters Collection Sauvignon Blanc, a summer favorite.
Sparkling Wine Glasses
When you think of sparkling wine glass, you think “Champagne flute.” This tall, narrow-bowled, long-stemmed design is meant to be held by the stem to prevent your hand from heating the wine. The narrow bowl helps to retain that scrumptious carbonation. Also, we can’t deny the Instagrammable quality of the flute! Add a strawberry slice to a glass of McBride Sisters Collection Brut Rosé and get snapping! It also helps to preserve the wine’s floral aromas, express more acidity, and deliver the aromas to the nose.
However, a “universal” or white wine glass is also a great option to enjoy a celebratory glass of sparkling wine or Prosecco. These wider-mouthed glasses allow the aromas to pop out of the glass, which can be muted with the traditional Champagne flute.
“Universal” Wine Glass
This is probably the handiest invention to benefit the wine world. “Universal” glasses are suited for drinking any kind of wine. If you’re a drink-outta-any-glass kind of gal, then the universal wine glass is the shape for you. There’s no need to collect specific glasses for varietals if you classify yourself as a “casual wine fan.” Of course, if you want to step it up a notch, use a standard red wine glass for all reds and a Chardonnay glass for whites.
Stemless glasses are great for everyday enjoyment. They’re an easy choice if you’re collapsing wine-in-hand after a long workday. However, we don’t recommend using them for higher-quality wines. Without the stem, you're forced to hold the bowl, which warms the wine—a white wine lover's nightmare.
Are your glasses clean and need to be filled? Visit our Wine Shop to make your flavor palette and glasses happy with a number of our sophisticated wines. We’ll drink to that!