Do we really need so many choices in glassware?
And can the size, shape, thickness and price of a
glass really change the taste of wine?
Depends on whom you ask.
The world’s largest high-end wine glass manufacturer,
The Riedel Company, offers this explanation on their website:
Grape varietal specific stemware has to translate the "message" of wine to the human senses.
Riedel claims that its “varietal specific stemware” is partially responsible for delivering the quality and intensity of a wine's aroma. Other attributes of the VSS? Highlighting exciting and diverse styles of “mouthfeel” in wine, creating a balanced interaction between the wine components and, offering a pleasant, seamless, harmonious and long lasting aftertaste.
Who knew? It seems that the Riedel Company knows something the rest of us do not.
I shudder to think of all of the glasses of wine that I have consumed in a standard, inferior,
cheap wine glass. I mourn the loss of taste experiences I didn’t know existed.
I offer an opposing, simpler theory that may help to explain the glut of wine glass choices
available today: Glass companies need to expand their product line to increase sales and profits.
Intense and successful marketing has given many wine lovers a mild case
of “Emperor’s New Clothes” syndrome.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. A scientific study on wine tasting and
stemware was conducted at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Pennsylvania. Monell describes
itself as the world’s only independent, non-profit scientific institute dedicated to interdisciplinary
basic research on the sense of taste and smell.
Subjects tasted wine in a scientifically controlled environment. They donned blackened goggles
so they could not see which glass was which. Even the position of their heads was restricted.
This allowed researchers to control the distance between
the rim of the glass and the taster’s nostrils. Nothing was left to chance.
Conclusion? Most subjects couldn’t tell the difference from one glass to another.
Conclusion 2? Glasses may have a limited, but subtle impact upon the olfactory
experience of wine.
At the Santa Ynez Valley Wine Association, we often include a souvenir wine glass during our
wine tasting events. One glass that tasters use to try multiple varietals from 16 different wineries.
This single, large bowled, thin-lipped, stemmed glass delivers a wonderful tasting experience,
because the wine inside is delicious!
So, unless you have unlimited storage space and a large wine glass budget, stick to the basics.
One glass for white wines, one for reds, and one for sparkling wine is pretty much all you’ll need.
Just remember to choose a good wine to put inside.