If you spend much time in the wine world, you will probably run into someone who believes very, very passionately about the importance of using the correct glass for the type of wine you are drinking. You will also meet other people who really don’t care about the glass, as long as there’s wine in it. I’m somewhere in the middle. I don’t get in a panic if you try to serve me Chardonnay in a Sauvignon Blanc glass, but I also am not walking around drinking wine from a plastic cup (no offense if that’s your thing). But the question is: does it really matter?
The reasoning behind different glasses varies depending on who you’re speaking to, with some even claiming that the only reason for different glasses is that it’s a marketing gimmick by glass manufacturers to get you to spend more money. The generally accepted reasoning, though, is that the different glasses are shaped to help enhance the flavors and aromas of different types of wine. White wine glasses usually have a smaller opening, which helps funnel the aroma to you, instead of letting it disperse into the air with a wider opening, which is used for many red wine glasses.
I don’t like blindly trusting anyone, especially when there are such differing opinions in this area, so I put the theory to the test to determine if the wine glass really affects the taste. I used a Malbec and Pinot Grigio and poured each into a set of 6 tasting glasses. These glasses are supposed to be ideal for Port, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
When tasting the wines side-by-side, the Malbec really did taste best in the Cabernet Sauvignon glass, with Merlot and Chardonnay close seconds. The wine taste and smell were very concentrated in the Port and Riesling glasses and it was downright harsh in the Sauvignon Blanc glass when compared to the others. For the Pinot Grigio, the taste was best in the Sauvignon Blanc glass, with more muted flavors and smell in the other glasses. So the glass really does affect the way the wine tastes, when you’re comparing it to the same wine in other glasses, but it’s a very subtle difference. Do I think I would have noticed the difference if I hadn’t tasted them side-by-side? Probably not. The differences were really only noticeable because I tried them one after another. However, this is useful to know if you’re looking for those subtle differences and trying to learn more about the characteristics of each wine.
Moving forward, I will be more cognizant of which glass I’m using, especially when trying a new wine, but I’m not going to refuse a glass of wine just because it’s not in the “right” glass. I found my absolute favorite red and white wine glasses a few months ago and I’m not tossing them in the trash. They’re a classic style and are great for everyday use. So how do you feel about this great debate? Does the wine glass style matter or do you just want to bring on the wine?