Whether choosing wine glasses for your bridal registry or purchasing a gift for the happy couple, it’s no secret that selecting glasses can be a bit confusing. However, there are some simple guidelines to make the experience easier.
Quality of stemware is important. The glass should be colorless and smooth with few, if any, facets, in order to observe the appearance of the wine. In addition, while wine tumblers may be stylish, wine is best enjoyed in a glass with a stem long enough to ensure the drinker’s hand will not touch the bowl of the glass and the wine will not be affected by the drinker’s body temperature.
Shape of the glass is also important. Generally, the essential wine glasses are red wine glasses, white wine glasses, and Champagne flutes.
A proper red wine glass should have a deep, broad bowl which is best suited for swirling the wine, allowing the wine to breathe and aerate, which will optimize the aromas and soften the flavors. The rim of the glass should be somewhat tapered, to guide the aromas directly to the drinker’s nose.
A good white wine glass should be smaller than the red glass, preferably egg-shaped and narrower, in order to preserve the gentle bouquet and crisp flavors, and keep the wine chilled.
Champagne flutes should be long and slender, as sparkling wines are best enjoyed chilled, and a smaller bowl reduces surface area, thus retaining the wine’s bubbly texture.
Good quality wine glasses can be found in stores such as Williams-Sonoma, Bed Bath & Beyond, Bloomingdale’s, and Macy’s (which has a fantastic, and well known bridal registry). A common misconception is that a good wine glass is very expensive. True, some wine glasses of extraordinary quality can be on the pricey side, but there are many very affordable wine glasses available as well. From Luigi Bormioli to Baccarat Crystal, the possibilities are endless.
A good starting point is the Vinum Series by Riedel, an Austrian manufacturer of wine glasses that are both beautiful and functional. Riedel Vinum Series stemware are reasonably priced, and include ideal glass shapes for all wine types. My preference for white wine is the Vinum Chablis, which has a medium-sized, egg-shaped bowl and a stem long enough to prevent my hand from reaching the bowl. The glass is ideal for whites including popular varietals such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. My red wine glass of choice is the Vinum Bordeaux, which has a large, round, deep bowl perfect for swirling, and a rim narrower than its bowl, which directs the aromas of full-bodied red wines directly to my nose. This glass shape is good for most red wines, Cabernets and Merlots in particular, which become lovely upon reaching the air. The Vinum Series also includes beautiful Champagne flutes, with the perfect long, narrow bowls ideal for the bubbly Champagnes and sparkling wines.
For the even more discerning wine drinker, Riedel produces stemware in so many sizes, perfect for all different wine styles and grape varietals.
For a truly exquisite wine gift, you might consider a decanter. Wine decanters are especially useful when aerating a wine, particularly aged full-bodied red wines, as well as filtering a bottle to rid it of the sediment. Standard carafes tend to be more reasonably priced than a wide-bottomed decanter. While the carafe will allow the wine to release its bouquet and reach oxygen, the impressive decanter with the wider bottom has a greater surface area, and if used with a wine funnel, the wine can reach the entire surface area of the decanter, opening up the wine’s beautiful bouquet and softening its flavors. Riedel makes beautiful carafes and decanters, and while these pieces may be a bit expensive, they are certainly worth having when preparing to enjoy a wonderful bottle of wine.