By Tamra Bolton
Some people think wine enthusiasts are a little uppity about their preference for drinking wine from fine glassware, but actually, there are several good reasons behind that choice. The more you learn about wine, the more likely you are to develop that same preference. I have to admit, I have tasted wine from everything imaginable: red solo cups, paper cups, coffee mugs, tin camping cups, canning jars and exquisite lead crystal stemware. I wouldn’t have believed it without my tireless testing, but there really is a difference when you use the right glass. What kind of glass you need depends on what type of wine you enjoy. You don’t need to go out and buy a complete set of white and red glassware if all you drink are reds. If you want to narrow your choices even further, you can purchase grape-specific glassware designed just for your favorite cabernet or Riesling. I prefer Riedel (pronounced “Rhee-dell”) glassware produced in Austria. Expert glassmakers since 1775, the Riedel family continues the tradition of creating the best stemware for every sort of wine. They were also the innovators who produced the revolutionary idea of “grape-specific glasses” with their Sommeliers line back in 1973. These glasses are super thin, 24% lead crystal and are a treat for the eyes as well as the hand.
Unfortunately, breaking glass is one of my talents and no wine glass or even coffee cup is safe with me. No matter how hard I try, I destroy at least one or two a month (sometimes more!). This is why I was so glad when Maximilian Riedel an eleventh-generation glassmaker who runs the United States based Riedel Company, came up with the “O” series of “stemless” wine glasses. I don’t knock these over as easily (although I’ve already dropped one) and even though I hold the glass bowl itself, it doesn’t affect my wine temperature much because I drink mostly merlots and Malbec’s, which are consumed at room temperature anyway.
Choosing a favorite glass is a lot like choosing a favorite wine, it’s a very individual decision, but the right type of glass can make a big difference in your experience. To make it simple, choose a glass with a wide bowl for reds wines and a narrower bowl for white. Remember to only fill your glass one-third full, to allow space to swirl your wine. Once you decide on the best glass for you and your wine, just enjoy.
Don’t worry about having a set of glasses for every type of wine, unless you entertain frequently or happen to drink a different wine every day. The main thing about drinking wine is the experience, whether it’s sitting by a campfire in the wilderness or in front of a roaring fireplace at a ski lodge…the experience of sharing a good bottle of wine should be savored and shared. Cheers!
Tip: Wash your wine glasses in very hot water only. Try to limit soap use because it can cause a buildup on the glass that can interfere with the taste of the wine.