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Choosing The Right Wine Glass

Wine can be enjoyed from any glass, but to savor the finer nuances of a particular varietal, the right design does make a difference. If you want to keep it simple, invest in three styles of glasses: one for red wine, one for white wine, and a flute for Champagne and sparkling.

Because observation is part of your wine experience, a simple clear glass is the best choice. The color and clarity of a wine can tell a lot about its varietal and age, so too much adornment can be distracting from the richness inside. Frosted or cut glass is for decorative purposes only and does not enhance the flavor in any way.

Trying to decide on stems or tumblers? Stems are the glass of choice for serious wine drinkers, not for their elegant, statuesque appearance, but to protect the wine from the warmth of your hand. The opposite is true for brandy snifters, which have a very short stem, making it desirable to wrap your palms around the bowl of the glass to warm the brandy.

Red Wine Glasses
A red wine glass has a large bowl that tapers at the rim. Red wine generally exhibits intense fruit characteristics as well as noticeable tannins. The spacious bowl of a typical red wine glass allows the wine to be gently swirled. This action allows air to soften the wine's tannins for smoother sipping while releasing its fragrant aromas for your pleasure.

Standard glasses designed for Cabernet or Bordeaux can be used for most red wines. However, if you're a true lover of red Burgundy or Pinot Noir, you may want to consider purchasing a glass specifically made to enjoy these varietals. The wider bowls of Pinot Noir glasses are an impressive sight, but they also serve an important function. The luscious red fruit aromas of Pinot Noir benefit from a generous surface area. Because the bowl is short, the wonderful aromas hit your nose instantly.

White Wine Glasses
The biggest difference in a white wine glass is bowl size. Since these wines are best served chilled, the smaller bowl keeps the wine's cool temperature longer. Because tannins in these wines are almost undetectable, swirling isn't as necessary to soften the wine. Chardonnay, Chablis, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blanc are the most commonly served. Other delicious whites like Viognier, Riesling, and Gewrutzaminer are becoming very popular. Yes, you can find a different glass for each of these varietals, but a standard white wine glass is absolutely appropriate to enjoy them all.

It's all about the bubbles! With more than 56 million of them in a typical bottle, the flute shape of a Champagne or sparkling wine glass is necessary to maintain a constant flow of those tiny bubbles to the rim. To fully enjoy these sparklers, do try to get beyond this hypnotizing sight to appreciate each bottle's unique flavor. You will taste how Champagne exhibits delicate fruit flavors with a hint of biscuit. Bright acidity keeps it clean and refreshing.

Care and Storage
Now that you have chosen the perfect glasses to enjoy your wine, you must care for them. Hand washing is best, but most detergents leave a residue on the glass that can adversely affect your wine's flavor. You can purchase special glass detergents, but one of the best ways to wash glasses is to sprinkle a little baking soda inside before washing with hot water. Let them drip dry, then polish with a lint-free towel. Store the glasses upright in an odor-free cabinet, as wood and finish scents can settle on glasses during storage. They may look nicer next to your fine china, but in the wrong cabinet, a glass of your finest vintage may lose its full flavor.

Happy tasting and toasting!