Monday, August 12, 2013

Wine Glasses: Do's and Don'ts for Finding Quality

A Bit of Wine customers often ask us why quality wine glasses are so important. Sure, you can enjoy any wine from a party tumbler. However,if you are learning how to enjoy the characteristics of a fine bottle of wine, a plastic party tumbler won't do. The anatomy of a quality wine glass is designed to amplify the smell, taste, and temperature of the wine. 

Beyond the shape of a wine glass, here are some other features of wine glassware you should be aware of for a fuller wine experience.

Avoid Colored or Tinted Glassware

To enjoy great wine is to appreciate the color saturation of the wine. With tinted, colored, or painted wine glasses you will not be able to see the true color and saturation. The color characteristic of each varietal is different and can set the expectation for your palette.A deeply saturated red Cabernet Sauvignon prepares your palette for a big bold punch, while a more translucent Pinot Noir builds anticipation for lighter more succulent red wine experience.

Don't Use Cut Crystal Glasses

For wine tasting, cut crystal glasses can limit the visual experience. Like colored wine glasses, cut crystal glasses may not give you an accurate view of the wine's color. More importantly, however, cut crystal wine glasses impede the observation of a wine's "legs". For those not familiar with this term, a wine's "legs" refers to how the wine drips down the inside of the wine glass after you swirl it. 

These tears can tell you a lot about the body of a wine. Distinct tears indicate a higher viscosity in the wine and sets you up for a lusher feel of the wine upon your first sip. This is less about the quality of wine, but instead, merely a note of descriptor preparing your mouth for the first taste.

Use the Right Size Wine Glass

Any wine lover appreciates the desire to have their very own Big Swig wine glass - like the one featured on Cougar Town. However, if you want to learn how to appreciate the notes and flavors of the wine, then the right size wine glass is important. Using a wine glass that is 16 ounces or more will allow you enough room in your wine glass to swirl the wine. 

Swirling opens up the wine for an aromatic experience before the first sip. Plus, those "legs" mentioned above are only achieved by swirling the wine. As the wine coats the inside of your glass, it aids in evaporation so you can fully appreciate the "nose" (or smell) of the wine. (Note: a too small wine glass + a heavy handed pour doesn't leave much room for your nose when you stick it in for that first smell. A "wine nose" is not sexy.)

Buy Lead Free When Possible

Quality lead-free crystal wine glasses are the creme-de-la-creme of wine glasses. There is a reason for that. All glassware has some level of natural impurities - like lead - in it. These natural impurities can taint the flavor of your wine when you are trying to develop a flavor profile in your tasting. While the process of extracting the lead can be pricey - quality wine glasses like Libbey, Riedel, or Ravenscroft are all high quality lead free wine glass brands.

Learning about wines and proper wine tasting techniques is a lifelong journey. It starts with decent wine glasses and the willingness to explore your 5 senses

What do you look for when buying wine glasses?



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