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Shapes for Grapes

Just when you begin to enjoy wine rather than being intimidated by it, along comes a confusing array of wine glasses-just as difficult to get your hands around. There's not only one for practically every grape, they come hand blown, machine made, and even without stems making selecting glassware a research project.

Five Musts:

1. plain, smooth, clear glass
2. a thin cut rim
3. sufficient size bowl
4. bowl shaped for the grape
5. proportioned stem


Buy quality wine glasses not for aesthetics (although there is a psychological aspect to drinking from a beautifully shaped glass) but to promote the flavors and aromas of each grape varietal. Glasses designed to enhance the grape's characteristics direct the wine to the various taste zones of the tongue.

Before tasting the wine, you must be able to see it clearly. A wine's color offers hints at the grapes, flavors, and age of the wine. So frosted or colored glass or silver goblets should be used for water, not wine. And a fine, thin rim brings attention to the wine rather than a thick glass between your lips. The bowl should be large enough to allow for swirling without spilling and shaped for the grape. Gentle swirling moistens the area and lifts the aromas of the wine that begins evaporating immediately after pouring. Fruit and flower notes rise to the rim, herbal notes rise only to the middle, and the heaviest aromas of wood, alcohol settle to the bottom.


Thus different styles of wines demand different types of wine glasses. Sparkling wines and Champagnes need flutes, to emphasize the fruit character and to encourage consistent effervescence to the top of the glass. White wines are best served in medium-sized glasses, with a three-ounce pour. Reds require large glasses for four to five ounce pours. And the tapered shape of each directs the aromas toward the nose. The stem not only provides a means of holding the wine, it keeps fingerprints off the bowl and the warmth of the hand from warming the wine. Thus whites and sparklers generally have longer stems because they are served colder than reds.

Although some serious wine drinkers collect glasses along with their wines, most only need a few stems-large bowl for reds, smaller bowl for whites, Champagne flutes, and perhaps an additional glass for a specific, favorite style of wine.

Six Lusts:

  1. Riedel Vinum Classic Burgundy/Pinot Noir
  2. Riedel Vinum Classic Bordeaux/Cabernet/Merlot
  3. Riedel Vinum Classic Chardonnay
  4. Riedel Vinum Extreme Champagne
  5. Riedel Sommelier Burgundy/Pinot Noir
  6. Riedel Sommelier Sauternes/Desert Wine


Glasses should be washed between uses, following the maker's recommendations. If there are no directions for care, most are safely washed using diluted detergent and very warm water.


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