A glass for every varietal: Is it really necessary?

Very interesting article that we would like to share with you:

By: Aimee Youngs

You may have noticed that there seems to be a wine glass for every grape varietal on the market. There’s a glass specially designed for Riesling, another for Sauvignon Blanc, a glass for Burgundy, Pinot Noir, Cabernet, and even Port.

At first impression, this just seems like a way for glassware companies to make extra cash. It appears as a marketing attempt to convince us that we need a separate glass for every which wine we drink. While a sales tactic might be partially behind this, there are enough good reasons backing these designs to keep a few different types in the cabinet.

The shape of wine glasses are created with the properties of the wine in mind. For example, a Riesling glass has a tall shape, is narrow, and tapered at the top (otherwise known as tulip-shaped). This shape allows the wine to properly display its intended aromas, hence leading to the intended taste (note: it’s really your sense of smell that is responsible for those thousands of flavors you think you are tasting). This glass can also be used for other young white wines such as Albariño and Sauvignon Blanc.

If instead you used a round bowl-shaped Burgundy glass, those aromas and flavors would fall flat. However, with Pinot Noir, the bowl creates a space for the Pinot Noir bouquet to develop. And Pinot Noir generally has an awesome bouquet, so why would you want to kill that with a glass that won’t do it any justice?

A piece essential to every glassware cabinet is the Champagne flute. The major difference between Champagne and wine is the bubbles. Have you ever tried to drink Champagne out of a plastic cup or even a regular wine glass? You might have noticed that your Champagne fell flat pretty fast. Champagne glasses need a tall narrow shape to keep the bubbles flowing. Look for flutes, and avoid those old-fashioned saucer-shaped Champagne glasses.

The reason I do not mention how the shape of the glass enables wine to enter the mouth on the tongue area that best picks up its flavors, as other sources explain, is because this has been proven untrue. Yes, the tongue picks up five different flavors: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami. However, these taste sensors are spread all over your tongue, and are not stationed in separate locations, as the old-fashioned tongue map once had us believe.

Despite the lack of importance the tongue has in wine tasting, the effect that aromas have on your ability to taste is far more significant than any tongue map mumbo jumbo. The consensus by most wine tasters is that a wine tastes better served in its specially designed glass. While I don’t recommend purchasing a set of glassware for each varietal, it wouldn’t hurt to have a set for the varietal you drink most.

About The Author

Aimee N. Youngs has a sommelier certificate from the US Sommelier Association. She is also studying to pass the Certified Specialist of Wine exam.

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