Does Size Really Matter? In Wine Glasses…yes.

WSJ - Does the wine glass size really matter

Photo by F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal

How particular are you with the glasses that you use to taste or drink wine? Does the size and shape of the glass really matter that much?!?!?

For those of you who have ever attended a seminar put on by Riedel, you’ll know that the answer is yes, size and shape do truly matter. I was amazed at the differences that I noticed tasting the same wine out of multiple glasses, including a plastic red cup. Why the red cup? It was meant to show what happens when you drink a wine at a picnic or somewhere else where wine glasses are not available.

The size and shape will help determine where a wine ‘hits’ your mouth – some will force the wine to the middle and back of your mouth, and some will land the wine at the front of your tongue. In each case, you have different taste buds present, and therefore a different ‘taste sensation’ will occur.

Same for aromatics – different shapes will lead to different aromatics being more or less ‘prominent.’

George Riedel explained it in a similar manner that a sommelier did in this article – that a wine glass is to wine as a speaker is to music. Great analogy, IMHO, as the glass can deaden or highlight highs and lows in a wine, can ‘pump up the bass’, or can ‘smooth out’ the treble a bit if need be.

At the end of the day, did this make me want to go out and purchase 4 or 5 different glasses for each of the different types of wines I like or produce?

No, it didn’t. Why? Because I’m a fairly practical person with limited budgets for such things – and because I’m okay with a great ‘all around’ glass that does a wonderful job for me.

What about you? How many different types of wine glasses do you have, and, more importantly, do you employ them all regularly or usually have a ‘go to’ glass?

Thanks for playing (-:


4 comments on “Does Size Really Matter? In Wine Glasses…yes.

  1. Tony Mastres says:

    Ah Yes, the wine glass conundrum. Yes I fully subscribe to the theory that each wine benefits from its own style of glass but we keep it at 2 types. Bordeaux and Burgundy, and, to be honest, we usually just stick with Burgundy glasses for most things 🙂

  2. Tony,

    Thanks for ‘playing’. Yep, it’s great to have different glasses, and the shape and size really does make a difference – but is it that much of a difference to justify having multiple glasses out? I certainly don’t do this at my house – one glass is fine . . . until I taste the same wine in a different glass and realize how different the experience can be! Then I may ‘test’ a specific wine in different glasses just to ‘see’. This is the ‘exception’, though, not the rule.

    That said, have you ever been at a tasting somewhere – your house or a friends – where different glasses were being used and people had very different reactions to the same wine? This has happened to me on many occasions, and it truly and honestly makes you wonder at times how much ‘good’ wine has been ‘discarded’ because it was consumed out of ‘bad’ glasses.

  3. bob dickey says:

    good comments, Larry. I also attended the Riedel seminar, so have seen the difference the glasses make. About ten years ago–after the seminar–we hosted our wine club (the hosts rotated) and prior to their arrival, I printed up four circles on an 8.5×11 with A, B, C, D and put all the same glasses on A, a different set on B…. like Riedel. and poured the same wine into each, asking the group to pick their favorite. Surprisingly, there were several–very adamant–choices. Not everyone picked the wine in the “right” glass. After I told them it was all the same wine, one woman sat at the table going over and over them, because she was CERTAIN that the wine glass “C” was by far superior.. So, yes, glass makes a different. But, like you, we have a couple shapes we use 95% of the time. (and most of them have logos, so if we break one it’s not a catastrophe.. : )

  4. Nicely stated, Bob. There is no doubt that the size and shape does matter, but so does practicality 🙂

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