Wine glass 101 for holiday celebrations


From left to right: 16 ounce red wine glass, 14 ounce white wine glass, Champagne flute, spirits wine glass with tulip shape to release aromas of Scotch for example, fun fortified wine glass for things like Port and Sherry. Holiday entertaining is a perfect excuse to assess one’s wine glass selection but with so many styles available a person could devote an entire pantry or paycheck to the mission. On the other hand, there is a method behind the vessel madness. To coin a phrase, size sometimes matters.

According to Leah Jackson, owner of Niche Wine Bar in downtown Vancouver, a well-chosen selection can also simplify hosting a dinner party.

“It’s nice to have two different sizes because you can tell who’s having a white wine as opposed to red. (It’s) easier to keep track of,” Jackson said.

Considering that the goal behind the shape of every glass is to enhance the bouquet of its contents, three to four basic styles for the average consumer should do the trick, keep storage space at a minimum and free your pocket book to splurge on quality.

  • Sparkling – The long, thin shape of this traditional, fluted glass concentrates the bubbles as they travel upward bursting in a celebratory fashion that releases a range of aromas from fruit to bread to floral.
  • White wine – The smaller Bordeaux glass that Niche uses for its white wines holds 14 ounces although a typical pour is between 5-6 ounces. Room is left for swirling the wine to allow it to come in contact with oxygen thus releasing its aromas. White wine should be served between 43-55 degrees, depending on the style, thus a stem is essential to avoid warming the contents with your hands.
  • Red wine – A 16 ounce Bordeaux glass is used and Jackson points out that “a slight taper to the top concentrates the nose” of the wine. Red wine has more aroma than whites so a large surface of glass allows more of the bouquet to be released and, since it’s served between 55-64 degrees, warming the wine to room temperature by having it in a larger glass is not a concern for red wine but, rather, preferable. A stem, therefore, is optional.
  • Fortified wine (I.e. Port, Sherry, Madeira, vermouth) – All of these fortifieds have a drier version which is traditionally served as an apéritif (pre-dinner) while the sweeter version is served as a digestif (after-dinner). Since fortified wines have a higher alcohol content, they are typically served in 2-ounce pours and a smaller tulip-shaped glass to emphasize the fruit characteristics over the alcohol it’s fortified with.

Jackson recommends staying away from etching and color on glassware that can interfere with a wine’s appearance. Titanium crystal, like the glass above, is made thinner but will cost about $16/glass.

Looking to strip down your wine glass collection even further? Jackson admits that she uses a red Bordeaux glass for all her wine needs at home –from Champagne to Cabernet Sauvignon and everything in between. She explains that a quality sparkling will keep its intoxicating bubbles for nearly 30 minutes and, once the wine hits the glass, how many of us are going to hold onto a full one for that long? Excellent point, Leah.

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