Wine Blog

Glasses DO make a difference

Stemware is no capricious matter. Glasses are designed to enhance a wine’s harmony and should be carefully chosen. Specialized manufacturers such as the Austrian Riedel have developed a number of very specific techniques to produce drinking glasses that, beyond beautiful, will bring out the best in the wines and spirits poured into them.

By Gabriel Salas / November 27, 2014
Sommelier and Area Manager at Concha y Toro Estonia

Differences and characteristics from glass to glass are numerous and can render them quite dissimilar; since they are created to cater to a wine of certain character, the scope is as rich and broad as the wine spectrum itself.


To fully savor different varieties and the subtle differences that make each wine unique, it is essential to use a glass whose shape serves this purpose. Its mission will be to enhance the quality and intensity of the wine, and direct its flow towards the desired portions of the mouth and tongue.

The initial contact point depends on the shape and volume of the glass, diameter and finish of the rim (either cut and polished or rolled), and thickness of the crystal.

As you put your wine glass to your lips, your taste buds are on the alert. The wine flow is directed onto the appropriate taste zones of your palate and consequently leads to different sensations.

Once the tongue touches the wine, three parameters are perceived simultaneously: temperature, texture and flavor.

The content determines the shape and size of the glass; both these factors have a huge impact on the quality and intensity of the aromas. Red wines call for large glasses, while whites require medium to small-sized glasses that will highlight the fruit character and not the alcohol.

There are some universal rules for stemware, which are later combined with tradition and design; the core principles are:

  1. Thin walls, colorless, transparent: Most frequent mistakes when it comes to glasses are thick walls, colorful crystal, richly carved or decorated (bubbles, embossings) glasses.
  2. Roller rims: Bell or inverted pyramid shapes are not appropriate for wine. The aromas have to arise from the bottom and get concentrated on the top, allowing this way a better perception of the aromas.
  3. Sufficient Capacity: Glasses have to allow a reasonable amount of wine, without exceeding the two thirds of capacity when served. It must never be served using the full capacity of the glass, so you can swirl the liquid letting oxygen enter the wine, without taking the risk of the tragedy of a spillage.
  4. Stemware with a minimum high of 4 centimeters: Two tragedies must be avoided by this. The first one is that the diner grabs the glass by its body. If he does such, he will not be able to read the colors of the wine and he will also heat its content. The second advantage of an appropriate stem is the steadiness and elegance. You have to be careful with some stemware with too long stems, since these can seem very elegant on the table, but they are also very unsteady due to their high gravity center.

How to serve a glass?

When serving a glass of wine it is very important to consider the following precautions: don’t fill the glass up to the top. We have to serve between 110 to 140 milliliters of red wine, 85 milliliters of white wine and 30 ml of liquors.

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