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Quick guide to choosing wine glasses

Wine can complicated enough without having to worry about different glasses for each wine.  You may be surprised to learn that choosing wine glasses can be less complicated than you may think.

There are a bewildering number of types of wine glasses available, one for nearly every type of grape and every style of wine.  However, it does not have to be overwhelming.

Traditionally glasses for red wines need to be bigger to aerate the wine more when swirling while glasses for white wines are smaller to keep the wine cooler.  Nowadays, this is no longer quite so clear cut.

Tasting while blindfolded in neutral conditions it is unlikely that you will notice the different in a wine tasted from different glasses.  In fact most wine professionals will agree that one good wine is enough for everyday use, including for Champagne and Sherry.

An elegant glass adds style and makes the wine look more appealing. So what are the characteristics of this glass?

An ideal size is around 300ml.  Actually, a nice gift for a wine drinker would be a set of the Standard Riedel wine glass.

Look for a wine glass that is a tumbler that slopes inwards towards the top.  This will allow the aromas to be funnelled and not be dissipated into the air.

The stem of the glass is not only useful for swirling but also for not warming the wine through contact with your hand, in the case of white wine.  Although a stemless wine glass is practical for a dinner party or an outdoor events and easier for putting in the dishwasher.

Tips on what to avoid, how to serve and store wine glasses:

  • Avoid goblets, very 1970’s, you may still have some in a cupboard somewhere.
  • Thick glass should also be avoided. Thinner glasses enhance the tasting experience.
  • Coloured glasses – you want to be able to see the wine
  • Very small glasses – too many refills
  • Store glasses standing upright, to avoid smell being trapped in the glass
  • Make sure the glasses are clean and free from any smells of cleaning detergents.
  • Best not to fill a glass by more than a third.  Otherwise swirling the glass to release the aromas will be impossible.

While the choice of wine glass matters your enjoyment will be influenced much more by where you are, who you are with and how you feel at the time. Sharing a wine served in a paper cup or a coffee mug while having fun won’t make a bad wine taste good but it will make a good wine taste so much better.

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I am a Northern Irishman based in Valencia. My career in wine began more than three decades ago, in London. I am the founder of TheWinePlace.es, an online store, where wine enthusiasts can enjoy a selection of international wines and Verde Marte, a company dedicated to exporting Spanish wines. Also, Thewineplace.courses, an "approved program provider" of the courses of the prestigious WSET. I share my passion for wines through my media work writing weekly columns for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and 5 Barricas, an online wine magazine.

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