Wine Glass Shapes
Wine glasses are a delivery system for the taste and eye appeal of wine.
Designs and etchings may be attractivebut they should be reserved for the water goblets. Professionals and amateur wine lovers alike feel that nothing shows the color and clarity of wine better than clear, unadorned crystal. The less that comes between the wine and the palate, the better is the experience.
Why are there so many different wine glass shapes?
Much of the variety in the marketplace is due to geographic tradition, design or marketing considerations. Practically speaking, only a few styles or shapes are needed for a complete wine service:
For more information about the care and attributes of wine glasses see Wine Glass Crystal Facts
The large tulip or narrowing goblet is the most useful as it allows swirling but has a narrow opening to concentrate the aroma or bouquet of complex red wines. Many wine drinkers call this shape their all-purpose glass.
A smaller version of the tulip is usually designated as a white wine glass because there is less need for larger volume to aerate white wine and one wants to keep the chill. Visually, it provides variety and distinction when more than one wine is served. This style is also referred to as a "non-oaked" or "fresh" white wine glass as well as “mature Bordeaux” since both wines require less aeration.
These large format glasses allow the maximum exposure to air for what is often called a big closed red wine. Some say “round, fruit-centered” wines. They also add a note of drama to the table when a very special wine is served. This is often the only glass for "big red" aficionados. Also considered a chardonnay glass (especially those with an "oaked" finish) because of the white Burgundy lineage.
Champagne Flute/Prestige Cuvee
The narrow Champagne flute or tulip cuvee glass prolongs the bead (bubbles) of sparkling wine and preserves its chill while presenting the festive wine at its best. Many of these have an effervescence point etched in the base of the bowl to focus the bead. The flute is the most popular but the prestige cuvee shape (fuller bowl) is sometimes preferred for the most prestigious (hence the name) Champagnes as the shape enhances the appreciation of the better base wines used. The appearance of either glass always signifies "Celebration!"
Optional, but a nice complement to all dessert wines as well as aperitifs. For those who like to go the extra mile.
Why bother with so many styles?
Because of fashion, aesthetics, taste, passion, life style, personal expression or any other intangible that adds to the quality of life as expressed in food and wine. Or, just for the sheer fun of it all. If you really love a certain type of wine, then you deserve a glass especially designed to show it off.