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The Wine Blog

A Series of Informative Articles

Wine glasses 

October 2021

Glass vessels for drinking wine first appeared in Egypt in 1500 BC. They became common during Roman times when the techniques of glass blowing spread throughout the Roman Empire and wine was drunk from glass tumblers, some with very intricate designs. The Venetians were next to perfect the art of glass making, and their skills were exported throughout Europe and through tradition and in time each wine producing region developed its own shape of glass for drinking wine.

Go shop for wine glasses today and you will find an array of different sizes, shapes and colours to choose from. But does it really matter what glass you use from which to drink wine? Could the shape or size of a glass really have an influence on the perception of taste of a wine? Well the answer is yes. Various studies have been carried out and the results suggest that wine connoisseurs are not merely wine snobs when insisting on using certain types of wine glasses to consume their favourite beverage. Glass size and shape will affect the taste of a wine.

A report from Canada in 2001 showed that the perceived intensity of the aromas of red and white wines served in glasses with different physical dimensions (opening diameter, maximum diameter, height and volume) vary according to the glass used. While research conducted in Germany using 180 volunteers found that tulip and beaker shaped glasses influenced the perceived wine aromas that was not related to the aesthetics of the glass shape. These differences were explained by Kari Russell at the University of Tennessee, who observed a change in the chemistry of the phenol compounds in wine as a result of different degrees of exposure to oxygen which is related to glass shape.

Wine can be drunk from any vessel, but clean glass has the advantage of being inert and if it is clear, allows the taster to appreciate the colour and clarity of the wine. Wine professionals only use one glass, the ISO glass that has very specific shape and dimensions, as shown here. This allows tasting notes to be comparable no matter where the wines are sampled by the experts.

A purist such as George Reidel, an Austrian glass maker, however, has designed over a hundred different wine glasses, one for almost every type of wine available! These glasses are all developed by purely analysing how different taste characteristics are optimised by minute variations in glass design.

Not having enough room to accommodate all the permutations available, many households have only one or two models of wine glass which is perfectly adequate for everyday consumption, however, here are the glasses you should be using for the most popular wines.