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BookClubEditor
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Registered: ‎10-20-2006
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Wine Diva: Glasses

Large glasses filled about one third full allow you to swirl your wine. Why bother with something that seems so pompous to many people? Because when you swirl your wine, the aromas lift upwards to your nose where 80% of all the "taste" of a wine is registered by your brain. That's right, you don't enjoy most of a wine's taste in your mouth. Seems strange, but when you think that our palates can only taste sweet, sour, bitter and salty, it makes sense that we should get into a new habit and swirl. You'll find less expensive wines will taste soooo much better if you just swirl them before taking each sip.

Since white wines don't emit as many flavors in swirling as reds wine do, the glasses for white wines are usually smaller and shorter. Plus, the difference in shape for reds and white also makes a prettier table setting.

The exception to the big wine glass rule is that if anyone attempts to serve you Champagne or sparkling wine in a big wine glass or anything that looks like a shallow saucer, called a coupe, call the wine police! These wide-mouthed glasses let the bubbles dissipate quickly, and the wine can go flat. Use them instead for ice cream or sorbet. For an interesting history on the custom of serving Champagne in special glasses, read the colorful anecdote on page 129 of Secrets from the Wine Diva.

Now, when it comes to getting more flavor out of a wine glass you might be surprised to learn that there is a very important difference between crystal and glass stemware. Crystal is not only more elegant in appearance, it functions differently. Unlike plain glass, which has a very smooth surface, crystal is microscopically rough. While you don't detect this roughness, the wine does, and for the wine it's all pleasure! Just as a rough loofah sponge feels great on your back in the shower, wine says its "ahhhs" by releasing more aromatic aromas against a rough surface than it does in a piece of stemware made of glass which is absolutely smooth.

Crystal glasses also have thinner walls than less expensive glass, which is another big plus. The alcohol in the wine evaporates more rapidly in a thin-walled glass. That means that the blanket of alcohol lying on the wine's surface is dissipated faster so that when you enjoy your wine it doesn't taste "hot" in the back of your mouth. Thin crystal is also more helpful if you need to warm up your too-chilled white wine. By cupping the glass in your hand, your body warmth warms the wine. So unless you are deliberately warming a wine that's too cold, hold your glass by the stem.

When it comes to gift giving, why not give crystal wine glasses instead of a bottle of wine? They give the recipients years of increased drinking pleasure, and it really is "the gift that keeps on giving." But before you give them away, be sure you gift yourself! They come in price points to fit all wallets, starting at $7 a stem. Page 130 of Secrets from the Wine Diva lists a wide array of wine glass brands and prices, and in the resource section on page 201, you'll find a list of great online deals.

If you believe that spending $10 to $20 to buy a heavy, curved wooden hanger to hang a good jacket or winter coat on (instead of a wire hanger) is a necessity, not a luxury, follow the same logic and get yourself crystal wine glasses to get the most enjoyment out of your wine. Whether you're spending $10 or $100 on your wine, aren't you worth it?


  1. What type of wine glasses do you have at home? Try the same wine in different shapes and types of glasses. Can you taste a difference?
  2. Have you ever had a wine in a restaurant that you absolutely fell in love with, but when you bought it in your local wine shop it tasted entirely different? Why do you think that is?
  3. You know that temperature and glassware play a part in how a wine is going to taste. What else do you think is going to help along the enjoyment of your bottle of wine?
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ChocolateFiend
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Registered: ‎10-30-2006
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Re: Wine Diva: Glasses

The impact of the shape of the wine glass really surprised me when first discovered. That was an activity in the previous wine class that I took with B/N. Both my husband and I were stunned. We tried Beaujolais Nouveau in a red wine glass, a white wine glass, and a straight sided water glass. It was UNDRINKABLE in the water glass! It was okay in the white wine glass but much better in the red! We did this with the couple who now comes monthly to try food and wine. But the best was when I visited my older brother in Chicago-- made him try it! Then, as a gift, I bought him a set if red and a set of white wine glasses!

I have both Rosenthal DiVino glasses (based on the Riedel (sp.?) shape) as well as Riedel. I use the DiVino because they can go into the dishwasher. I use the Reidel wine tumblers, too, because they are just fun and very informal. Actually, I put the Reidel glasses that it into the dishwasher, too. Why ruin a perfectly good evening by having to wash glassware? So far, none seem the worse for wear.
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ChefJon
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Registered: ‎10-22-2006
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Re: Wine Diva: Glasses

I'm really excited to now have stem-less wine glasses, which are great for warming a cool red. I love the feel of them, the sturdiness and the simplicity!
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ChocolateFiend
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Re: Wine Diva: Glasses



ChefJon wrote:
I'm really excited to now have stem-less wine glasses, which are great for warming a cool red. I love the feel of them, the sturdiness and the simplicity!




The tumblers are great fun! We built a screened gazebo last fall, down the hill (we now have steps) from the house. The tumblers are much easier to manage then the traditional glasses with stems when serving in the gazebo. I always feel so "formal" using traditonal wine glasses-- and my lifestyle certainly is not, living smack dab in the middle of 80 wooded acres!
Chocolate Fiend