There are those who consider a glass to be a vessel in which one serves liquids including wine, and those who are convinced that wine must be served in stemware that is specifically designed and of correct capacity. They enable consumers to fully appreciate the wine.
For decades wine connoisseurs have known that the shape and size of the glass in which wine is served make a big difference, and helped design glassware enabling them to appreciate their “ beloved “ beverage at its best.
As most tasters know, the tongue has certain spots sensitive to certain components of the wine. The tip perceives sweetness or lack of it; the sides detect acidity, the middleweight, and the back bitterness. The fifth is called umami that translates to savouriness.
Attending one of the fine wine tastings of H. Rodenstock, the famous German fine wine dealer could convince any enthusiast that fine wines require not only experienced and appreciative palates, but also well conceived, designed, and manufactured stemware.
Mr. Rodenstock uses specifically designed Riedel stemware when he hosts his rare, but eagerly awaited tastings, which last for a few days. It is actually a tasting symposium rather than a regular run-of-the-mill wine appreciation and/or evaluation.
Several excellent glass manufacturers concerned enough about wine appreciation design and manufacture stemware for different wines. (Red Bordeaux, red Burgundy, white Burgundy, German Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire region or New Zealand and even for ice wine). They realize that the curvature of the glass distributes the wine to different parts of the tongue and palate. Designers know that a sweet wine poured into a glass with a particular curvature will first hit the sides of the tongue and thus appear to be less sweet than it actually is, since the sides of the tongue are more receptive to acidity.
Properly designed Chardonnay-, Pinot Noir-, Cabernet Sauvignon-, Sauternes-, sparkling wine- glasses make a considerable difference; they elevate the intensity of enjoyment wine.
Riedel has several lines of stemware, the top of which is called Sommelier (all mouth blown).
Next in line is Vinum (machine blown but lead crystal). Curvature and Wine series are less brittle stemware meant for regular use. In the past few years other, mostly German, glass manufacturers started designing and manufacturing fine wine glasses at reasonable cost.
Fine stemware is always thin, delicate, and colourless to appreciate colour nuances of the wine.
The capacity of a wine glass is also of great importance for the aromas to develop.
Less than 12 oz (360 ml) capacity (except for sparkling and ice wine) is considered to be inadequate to enjoy fully a well made wine. Red wines are best in 17oz capacity glasses filled one third.
Other fine glass manufacturers are: Zwiesel in Germany, Arco Roc in France, Libbey in U. S. A., Orefors, Costa and Boda in Sweden, Waterford in Ireland just to name a few.
Since all of the above are well known, why do restaurateurs insist on using inappropriate shaped and sized run-of-the-mill glasses? The answer may appear to be appalling but true. Some restaurateurs lack the knowledge and do not care, while others care about cost rather than their customers.
I, like most other wine enthusiasts, will take my business to restaurants that know and care enough to select well-made wines, and use appropriate glasses for service.