So how important is it to have the right wine glass? And what to make of decanters and the other wine paraphernalia out there?
According to Wine Folly which is an excellent source for all things wine, there are essentially 18 different types of wine glasses for different categories and varieties of wine (Wine Folly 2016, ‘What Types of Wine Glasses Do You Really Need?’). They all differ in shape and size from fairly “normal” looking to just plain bizarre. Putting aside the issue of where do you even buy the 18 different types of wine glasses, do you really need all of them?
Well; of course not. Sure you’d impress your friends but you may also lose some in the process. Though I must confess that when visiting family or friends, I do occasionally find myself raising an eyebrow or two at the receptacle that wine’s presented in. Here’s some tips to get the best out of any wine category and to appease any fully fledged wine snob or budding cynic. You also don’t need to break the budget.
It’s all about “ethanol vapours as they leave the opening of a glass” as “this is how the wine aromas… enter your nose” (Wine Folly 2016, ‘The Importance of a Proper Wine Glass’). But let’s not get too technical. Red wine needs to breathe. You want to be able to get the full array of aromas bursting out from the glass. You need to be able to aerate (swirl) the wine vigorously without spilling it. To do this you will need a glass that is A. A standard wine glass i.e. shaped so that the bowl is wider at the middle and slightly narrower at the opening and B. Big enough i.e. volume is approx. 750mL, height (including the stem) is approx. 250mm and the opening is approx. 80mm wide – think fishbowl as it can’t really be too big.
For white wine you want to preserve aromas. Use your red wine glasses if they aren’t too big or go for a wine glass with volume approx. 200mL, height (including the stem) approx. 200mm and opening approx. 60mm wide.
For sparkling wine, go for a standard flute. A flute ensures that bubbles (carbon dioxide) collect and intensify at the top of the glass, giving you the very essence of the sparkling experience.
What about stemless glasses that seem to be popular nowadays?
For red, if you must, sure. Makes sense for picnics. For white, no – you don’t want to warm the wine by holding the bowl.
Do the glasses need to be crystal?
No. Crystal usually means a thinner glass that sparkles i.e. a more attractive glass but it has no practical advantage.
So for the average household, that’s at most 6 red glasses, 6 white glasses and 6 sparkling flutes; that don’t need to be expensive crystal. Don’t bother with “the good glasses” as wine glasses were not designed to gather dust. We use and recommend Plumm Vintage REDa, Vintage WHITEa and Vintage SPARKLING glasses. We love that they’re Australian and that they’ve kept things simple.
A decanter allows wine to breathe before you drink it. They’re useful for red wine and should “improve” the wine. But simply having the right wine glasses should avoid the need for a decanter altogether. Decanting itself takes time and effort and traditional decanters are notoriously difficult to clean. Some modern decanters (or aerators) speed up the decanting process (and may even include filtration) but likely have little effect on the wine.
Other wine paraphernalia
Openers, pourers, stoppers, thermometers, chillers, The Corkcicle and even apps that reveal the flavours in your wine. Some are somewhat useful but most are gimmicks. Great as gifts for the wine lover I guess.
One gimmick that got my attention was Purewine – you put hydrogen peroxide in your wine to “reduce preservatives”. Apparently the preservatives are converted into harmless sulphates. OK but what about the hydrogen peroxide? It seems you still drink that! I’d steer well clear of that one. If you have a sulfite sensitivity, at The Organic Wine Cellar we have an amazing array of organic wine and biodynamic wine, all of which are low in preservative and many of which are preservative free. You can shop by preservative free by clicking ‘PRESERVATIVE FREE’ under Browse on our Home Page.
Wine Folly 2016, ‘The Importance of a Proper Wine Glass’ <http://winefolly.com/tutorial/ the-importance-of-a-proper-wine-glass/>, viewed 17 April 2016.
Wine Folly 2016, ‘What Types of Wine Glasses Do You Really Need?’ <http://winefolly.com/tutorial/types-of-wine-glasses/>, viewed 17 April 2016.