If you think the perfect stemware is a must-have for your wine of choice, think again. Every day wines taste great in the park, or at the beach, places where ideal glassware is not usually at hand. Genuine wine lovers care less than you might imagine about glassware. The wine itself is key. Everything else is a minor detail, except, of course, the company.
Think of wine as the little black dress, or the basic three-piece suit, and the glassware as the scarf or necktie. There is no question that certain glassware enhances the experience. However, the best glass in the world cannot raise the innate quality of the wine.
George Riedel, whose Riedel glassware company markets some of the finest wine stemware in the world, says using his glasses is like “putting on your Sunday suit and going out for a ride.” In this case he is putting a suit on a suit, but he is European, so what do you expect?
I can tell you it tastes pretty darn good. And as more than one sommelier will tell you, wine tastes pretty good right out of the bottle in the wee hours! But, in this case, you may enjoy the first growth Bordeaux in a large-bowled, long-stemmed glass. Also keep in mind that some glass shapes lend themselves towards a more glamorous, sophisticated experience.
Even if you have the cash and the cupboard space, if you buy the good stuff, you end up getting so protective over it that you and your guests aren’t comfortable using it.
The glassware needn’t be pricey Austrian hand blown crystal from Riedel at $20 or $30 per stem. In fact, Riedel has glassware at several price points, as do other stemware providers, like Spiegelau.
Well-stocked wine shops carry specialty glassware, but they are not alone these days. Check the shelves at places like Bed, Bath and Beyond, Cost Plus, and Pottery Barn. I love fellow Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson’s “The One” glasses, available in a petite and medium triangular bowl shape. The larger ones are great for Chardonnay, Syrah and Pinot Noir, and are the official glassware of the San Francisco Wine School.
Go with what feels good in your hand, not what you think will impress your friends. Always buy two to four more glasses than you think you’ll need. If you want one all-purpose glass, choose a larger white wine glass or a smaller red wine glass. Fill it less than half-full and practice swirling the wine around to unleash the wine’s aromas. Practice swirling on a flat surface such as a tabletop, and then gradually build up to a mid-air twirl. Wearing black helps.
What stemware is a must have for you?
Do you think wine glasses enhance your enjoyment of wine?
Check back here to post or read follow-up comments and to check out our next blog post. See our upcoming schedule of French Wine Scholar classes, California Wine Appellation Specialist classes and seminars.