The right wine glass for the job.

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Red wine glass, white wine glasses and glasses for sparkling wine.

Not just a 'wine snob' thing.

I once heard someone say that they 'don't mind drinking red wine from a white wine glass'. Up until that point, I didn't even know that there were specific glasses that complimented specific types of wine. Wine was just wine, and it didn't really matter what you drank it from. Normal wine glasses, champagne glasses (didn't know they were actually called champagne flutes), tumblers, jam jars. It didn't particularly matter, as long as we were drinking wine. 

Fast forward a few years, to where I now know the different types of wine that I like. I know how to serve them properly and at what temperatures. I know which wine I should serve with particular dishes when I have guests over. Most importantly, I know which glass I should serve the wine in.

This made for an interesting discussion around the dinner table with some friends, as it came to light that many people don't know the difference between wine glasses and that specific wines are supposed to be served in particular types of wine glasses. It wasn't
particularly difficult to explain which glasses should be used where, but it was apparent that very few people were actually aware of it.

Luckily, our local wine preference in South Africa means that you will only ever need three different types of wine glass to be prepared for anything. Check out the three types below for a quick overview of the glass and what you should be drinking from them.

Red Wines

Red wines have a richer, more full aroma than a white wine and should be drunk from a glass with a larger bowl area. This is because red wines have tannins that need to be offset in order for that great, full taste to come through - hence the larger bowl area. This area gives the tannins some room to breathe and the ethanol to evaporate before they reach your nose and mouth, giving you a taste that is less sharp and acidic.

For an example of a great red wine glass, see the Elytium Gold Rodio wine glass, which has a large bowl suited for red wine and a sheer rim that makes red wines taste smoother.

Now, there is plenty more depth and many more different types of red wine glass that one can go into for specific red wine types, but you'll only ever need to buy a large-bowled red wine glass for your home.

White Wines

At the opposite end of the spectrum, you have white wine. Filled with fruity, light aromas that can be drunk at a cooler temperature than red wine. That is why you'll need a glass that has a more compact bowl and smaller rim than a red wine glass, with a longer flower-like stem. 

The compact bowl is constructed so that the drinker gets the best out of the fruity flavours from the wine, as white wine is intended to have a more crisp taste than a red. The rim has a smaller radius in contrast to a red wine glass, to cater better to the smell of the wine and is just big enough to accommodate an ice cube or two. The long stem features on the glass so that you do not have to grip the bowl and change the temperature of the drink inside with the heat radiating from your hands.

As a good example, see the Sauvignon tempered wine glass, which displays all of these features beautifully. 

Sparkling Wines

Normally sparkling wine indicates that we're having a celebration. These wines are fun and bubbly, so they should be served from a glass that has similar features. This type of wine should be served from a champagne flute, which has an elongated bowl with a long stem. This shape of bowl ensures that the foam from the sparkling wine has enough space to rise, while still maintaining the natural crisp flavours coming through. As with the white wine glasses, the long stem ensures that you don't change the temperature of the wine, which is typically served chilled.

As a good example, look at the Elytium Gold Rodio Tempered Champagne Flute (that's quite a mouthful, right?).

If you have a few of these three glass types in your cupboard, you should be well equipped to deal with any wine that is served in your house.

Do you have any suggestions on essential glass types that can be used for a few different wines? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Charl Barkhuizen
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