Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Glass That Holds It

Well now, hasn’t it been a while since you’ve seen me. Just when I think I’m back, life takes a hard left turn but we seem to be back, up and running again. Well, maybe not running. But a light brisk walk that’s for sure.

So I’ve been doing a lot of reviews in the past while and I wanted to just put a quick hold on that and start off by talking a bit about stemware. Your glass, or glasses if you’re like me, depends on what’s going to fill it. A good rule of thumb is the darker the colour the bigger the bowl of the glass. The only time I can really think where this goes out the window is with fortified wine. In that case the booze is can be so strong that you wouldn’t want to drink more 3 ounces of it. But with still wine the colour rule shouldn’t steer you wrong.

So generally going from smallest to largest we have; ISO tasting glasses, these are used in most wine education course (not unlike the one I was in). These are fairly small unassuming glasses not meant for everyday consumption, they are designed to be equally optimal to all kinds of wine, from the bubbly to the fortified, from the reds to the whites. They are designed to only really hold about 1 to 2 ounces of liquid.

Next up we have my absolute favorite, the champagne flute. These glasses are tall, sometimes ridiculously so, and are an absolute pain to find storage space for in the average glass cabinet. But! They’re long and sleek and they feel like sex in your hands after you’ve had are fill or two. Their shape and designed to control the release of theCO2 from the wine, keeping the bubbles longer and more even. Typically they etch a tiny X in the bottom of the bowl to siphon the bubbles thorough the center, giving the beautiful bubble trail in the glass.

After that we have the white wine glass. This one is marked by its notably smaller bowl then a red wine glass, and a more… bowl shaped bowl then a flute. The logic behind this is that you don’t want the white wine to warm up to you limit the amount of surface area there is to exposure. Also, white wine is best when it’s only slightly oxidized, so the less oxygen exposer the better.  There are specialized glasses that enhance the aromas of a white wine, but theses specializations aren’t very common.

Finally we have red wine glasses. This is where the arty, hipsters of the wine glass community hang out. There are like a million different kinds of red wine glasses. Well maybe not, but probably over 20. It’s enough that I don’t bother paying attention to them all. There are 3 kinds of red glasses that you will want to know. Your Bordeaux glass, this one is tall and broad, and is designed to show Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah best because of their full body.  Then we have the Burgundy glass. This is the Bad Ass glass that all the wine drinking villains use. It’s the glass I use, even for orange juice (but not really...). This glass has a larger bowl then the Bordeaux glass and is used for more delicate red wines like Pinot Noirs. This is because the larger bowl allows the aromas in the glass to accumulate, and with finer red wines, like the way Pinots should be, the oxidization builds complexity in wine and makes it evolve and open up. It’s really very astounding how much of a difference a glass can make.  Finally of course, there is the generic red wine glass, the bowl in this one won’t be as big as the Bordeaux glass but will always be bigger than any white glass.

Homework for everyone, try different glasses. Go out and buy a wine that you know, and our yourself a glass in a generic red and a generic white glass and see how it tastes right away, wait 5 minutes and taste them again, and then wait half an hour and see how it changes again,. Not only is this a good way to see how the glass wear makes a difference but it’s a great activity to further explore a wine and its evolution.

Over all I find it’s probably best to keep at least a generic red, white and flute in my glass cabinet at all times, but as your personal cellar grows you can expand your stemwear collection as well.