“Drinking wine from any old glass is equivalent to listening to music from a transistor rather than from an HD radio,” says Paul Melendo, oenologist and commercial representative for Riedel, the world leader in the production of wine glasses.
“Nowadays we design specific glasses to highlight the characteristics of each grape variety. The ultimate goal is that the aromas develop well and that the journey through the mouth is balanced, and for that the shape of the glass is fundamental,” explained Melendo.
Until the middle of the 20th century, wine glasses where designed to be things of beauty: carved crystal, whimsical shapes... But, after the Second World War, Claus J. Riedel, the ninth generation of a family of Czech glass manufacturers, realised that the wine did not smell or taste the same served in different glasses. In 1958 he launched the first collection designed to highlight the qualities of different wines.
Riedel have hundreds of glasses available but the main requirements for a good glass are that it is “transparent and uncoloured, and thin-walled”, according to Melendo.
To enjoy a young wine he recommends a narrow glass. “A narrow diameter allows the flow of liquid towards the central part of the tongue, modulating the acidity,” he explains. The breadth of the base of a glass allows wine to 'open' and the aromas to develop better. The shape also influences the ability to retain aromas, and the size will allow its development. Generally, for red wines which are more complex from the aromatic point of view, larger and taller glasses are used because a high glass emphasises the balance of the wine.
Glass size and shape isn't the only consideration when enjoying a wine -temperature and oxygenation arealso important. A wine glass should only be filled up to the widest part, between a quarter and a third of its capacity. It should be held by the stem in order to appreciate the colour of the wine and to turn the glass to help develop the aromas.