Erin Doman on April 15, 2016 3 Comments While most people primarily focus on the type of wine that is going be served, a good host cannot ignore an important part of wine drinking: the type of wine glasses you use. The vessel in which your wine is delivered can affect the taste, the texture and the drinking occasion. Determining the occasion, the wine variety and the type of glass show a careful consideration about how you or your guests experience the drink at the highest level possible. Here is a quick primer on types of glasses and a discussion about the age-old question, should you serve your wine in glass or in crystal stemware? Anatomy of a Wine Glass Click Here to Shop All Stemware Before getting into the glass versus crystal debate, it’s important to know all about the different parts that make up the wine glass structure. From top to bottom, the wine glass is comprised of the following elements: The Rim: The top edge of the wine glass where your mouth meets the wine. The best wine glasses have a thin, smooth rim that doesn’t get in the way of the flow of wine to your lips. Wine glasses that are lower in quality may have a thicker rim with more of a texture that may distract you from the entire wine experience. Typically, crystal can be fashioned into a thinner rimmed piece of stemware than glass, but this isn’t always the case. The Bowl: This is where the wine glass takes its open shape, usually narrower at the top and roundly opening up to the bottom. Depending on the type of wine, the bowl size and shape may vary to allow for more aroma to come across or for the wine to breathe properly. The Stem: Like a flower’s stem, the wine glass stem is a long, thin line that makes it possible to properly hold the glass without your body heat affecting the wine’s temperature. The Foot: Finally, the bottom disc of the wine glass that makes it possible for the glass to be set upon a table without falling over. Types of Stemware Along with the parts of a wine glass, the next important thing to consider when drinking wine is the type of glassware. Different types of wine have different stemware recommendations. Here are a few of the most common types of wine glasses available and the type of wine that is usually poured with the glass. Bordeaux glass: For rich red wines like syrah and cabernet sauvignon, this tall wine glass with a generous bowl gives space for aromas to develop and for the wine to breathe. Burgundy glass: For softer red wines like pinot noir, this glass has a wider bowl and a more tapered shape to the rim to help red wine drinkers bask in the velvety flavors of the drink. White wine glass: White wine deserves a shorter glass with a more proportioned bowl to allow for crisp flavors and acidity to be enjoyed. Champagne flute: For bubbly white wine, a flute is the best glassware to use. These tall, narrow glasses are designed to highlight the popping fizz of these types of wines. Rosé wine glass: For pink hued wines, this glass style is recommended. The wine glass for these types of wines has a short bowl topped with a flared lip. The shape accentuates the sweetness of these types of wines. Dessert wine glass: Designed for the petite serving size of a dessert wine, these glasses are ideal for the quick burst of sweet flavor that a dessert wine is known for. The Basics of Glass and Crystal Now, it’s time to talk about the different materials that wine glasses are constructed from. For most manufacturers, there are two types of glassware ingredients, glass and crystal. If you’re not paying attention, it’s extremely difficult to tell the difference between the two materials. However, there are a few ways to discern from the two different materials if you look close enough at the details. Crystal, when held up to the light, captures it in a prism and creates a rainbow, while glass doesn’t. If you’ve ever seen people make music by rubbing a wet finger around the rim of a wine glass, they’re likely using crystal. Glass might have a slight musical quality, but not nearly as much as crystal glasses do. Additionally, when tapped with a utensil, crystal will ring melodically, while glass will not. Another way to differentiate between the two materials is by the weight. Crystal is much heavier than a similar piece made in glass. Glass, which has been used for wine stemware for a longer period of time than crystal, was even used by ancient peoples, thousands of years ago. It wasn’t until the seventeenth century when the British started adding lead oxide to crystal that crystal became a preferred material for stemware. Later, when lead was discovered to be a carcinogen, glass went back to being the preferred material. Today, there are lead free versions of crystal that allow wine drinkers to experience the luxurious material without worrying about harmful chemicals seeping into their beverage. Does It Make the Wine Taste Different? For most people, there isn’t a huge difference in the taste between wines served in crystal versus wines served in glass. But for some specific types of wine, a sip from a crystal glass instead of a regular glass may give your mouth a different experience. Crystal is able to be made thinner than glass, so for wine glasses that need a thin rim, it can virtually eliminate the edge of the lip of the glass that can sometimes get in the way of the flow of the drink against your tongue. The Practicalities of Stemware Both crystal and glass have their advantages and disadvantages, but mostly it’s a personal preference. Here is a breakdown of the practical differences between the two glass types: Price: Glass is more inexpensive than crystal. Crystal’s weight and prestige fetch a higher price. Washing: If you don’t mind hand washing your glassware, porous crystal may be the right choice. Glass is both non porous and conveniently dishwasher safe. Quality: For impressing your friends and family on special occasions, there’s nothing more striking than a crystal glass. Regular glass can always be used for just casual events. Durability: Crystal is more fragile, so if you have small children or butter fingers, you may want to consider glass. Now that you’ve learned about all of the different glassware choices out there, it’s time to experiment and see how glassware can enhance a wine’s natural flavor for yourself. Paying close attention to glassware types, materials and the perfectly matched wine and glass combination can help give your mouth the best tasting experience that the wine can offer.