Stemware and wine glasses are truly a subjective product. Everyone has their favorite shape or their favorite crystal company, perhaps, but unfortunately, those aren’t the things that should ultimately make your decision. No, the decision on which wine glass to use ultimately comes from your tongue. Yes, your tongue.
Here’s how it works: Your tongue recognizes four basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, and acid. The front of the tongue is where sweet is found and the back of the tongue is where bitter is found and acid and sour rest on the sides of your tongue. Wine falls into these categories, as does all food, really, and so the purpose of a wine glass is to direct the wine to that portion of your tongue, or in some cases away from a portion of your tongue, where certain flavors are found. In addition, since wine is also an aromatic, wine glasses are designed to enhance the aromas of wine by either allowing maximum oxygenation, as in the case of a Bordeaux glass, or directing the aromas specifically up and out, such as a Chardonnay glass. So, a Burgundy glass is likely to direct the wine to the front of your tongue to accentuate its mellow flavors while a Bordeaux glass aims more for the middle of the tongue to allow the complexities of the wine to show through.
While crystal is often the best choice for stemware because of its usual thinness and quality, superior glass can also be just as good for wine consumers. Whatever the case, crystal carries with it the typical warning that most quality stemware is leaded crystal and exposing wine to leaded crystal can and will put lead into your system in very trace amounts. How do you avoid trouble? Don’t let the wine sit for long periods of time. If the glass has had wine in it for more than an hour, it’s probably best to dispose of it. (You weren’t really drinking it anyway, were you?) That said, quality crystal is not only an aesthetically pleasing choice, it does enhance the experience of the wine by allowing it to be its natural self as much as possible.
The price ranges are astounding, the highest being in the multiple thousands for a single glass. There’s no need to spend a small fortune, however, and quality can be had for relatively reasonable prices. Still, quality stemware is as important as proper storage of wine or even the wine itself. Riedel is the king of this category as they have produced quality crystal, leaded crystal, handcrafted and superior glass stemware for many years. Almost every restaurant that serves wine, serves it in Riedel glass and many wineries have even turned to Riedel to supply their tasting glasses. Still, names like Baccarat, Tiffany, and Waterford rank at the top and the choices, styles and aesthetics are as varied as the number of wines you can pour in them.
Rather than pick specific glasses, we’ve chosen stemware makers and styles. Now that you have a sense of pouring Chardonnay in a Chardonnay glass and Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a Bordeaux, in a Bordeaux glass, the next step is to choose a stemware maker, style, and pattern and enjoy.
Choose the best crystal wine classes to show off your fine wine collection. The best wine glassware features Tiffany, Baccarat, Waterford, Swarovski, Riedel and others at the best price.