Anatomy of Wine Glasses
Whether sweet or dry, white or red, robust or light, wine requires very specific serving procedures in order to reach its full flavor potential. In addition to proper serving temperatures, each type of wine requires a specific style of glass for service.
Anatomy of a Glass
A wine glass is composed of four parts – the base, the stem, the bowl, and the rim. The base is what gives the glass its stability. From there, the stem elongates the glass while giving the customer something to hold on to without raising the temperature of the wine within. It also prevents fingerprints from getting on the bowl of the glass.
The bowl sits atop the stem. The bowl is arguably the most important feature of the glass. It should be large enough to comfortably swirl the wine without spilling or splashing it, and it should be tapered to retain and concentrate the aroma of the wine. Full-bodied red wines need room to breathe and to release their aroma. Therefore, a larger bowl is needed when serving these wines. Conversely, white wines are typically served in smaller glasses, ones that are shaped like a "U" and narrower than a red wine glass. This gives the wine enough room for the aromas to be released but also helps in maintaining the cooler temperature of the white wines. Finally, flutes are often used to serve sparkling wines, as they help the bubbles last longer.
The uppermost part of the bowl is where the rim lies. A thinner rim is less distracting to drinkers as they sip their wine, and a smooth rim will not impede the wine as it flows from glass to mouth. Thicker, rounder rims are the sign of a cheaply made glass, and while the glasses serve their purpose, they may be more distracting to the drinker.
What is a Standard Pour of Wine?
There is no legal measure for a standard pour of wine. However, in the restaurant industry, it falls somewhere around the 5 oz. mark. This allows a sommelier or host to get about 5 glasses out of any 750 mL bottle of wine. Some restaurants will pour as much as 6 oz. and some may offer less, depending on the price of the wine. Some glasses have pour lines printed on them, for a precise pour every time.
For tastings, a standard pour falls around 2 oz., enough to properly smell and taste the wine without initiating a buzz too quickly. Similarly, dessert wines are usually served in 2 oz. pours since they are much sweeter and higher in alcohol than other types of wines.
The size of the glass also plays into how much wine is poured at a time. A smaller glass will make it seem like there's more wine, whereas a big balloon glass will make even a generous pour look light. Sparkling wine is often served in 5-6 oz. servings, like white or red wine, but it might look like a smaller pour because of the shape of the flute. It's important not to overfill a wine glass, as the extra space in the glass is there intentionally, to hold aromas.
Crystal vs. Glass Wine Glasses
What Is the Difference Between Glass and Crystal?
All crystal is glass, but not all glass is crystal. In general, the lead content of glass determines whether it is classified as glass or crystal. The presence of lead softens the glass in crystal, making it more easily cut and engraved. Unlike traditional glass, crystal is heavier and diffracts light. In traditional lead glassware, the lead has a tendency to leach out of the crystal. To combat this, today's crystal glassware is typically unleaded.
When deciding between crystal and glass, consider the environment in which the wine glass will be used and your washing situation. You may choose to purchase some of each, so you can use either glass in the correct situation depending on your needs.
Crystal Wine Glasses
Crystal wine glasses enhance the aromas in wine and offer an elegant design, making them perfect for high-end dining rooms and formal events.
Can be spun very thin to create a very thin rim
Yields a smoother drink flow against the tongue because it eliminates the thicker lip edge
More expensive than glass
Very fragile; can easily break
Porous and must be washed by hand
Glass Wine Glasses
Glass wine glasses are more durable than their crystal counterparts, making them a better fit for bustling casual restaurants and bars.
More durable and less likely to break
Non-porous and usually dishwasher safe
Not as delicate as crystal
Usually not as well designed as crystal glasses to enhance wine's flavor.