Erik Neilson on June 1, 2016 1 Comment Stemware is one of the most overlooked, yet crucial elements of the wine world. It not only plays an important role in the enjoyment and presentation of wine, but the differences between certain types of stemware serve as historical jumping-off points for learning more about how wine has gotten to where it is today. While beautiful wines will taste great no matter what they’re served in, choosing the right vessel can help to accentuate their nuances, allowing the wines to be enjoyed the way they were intended to by their makers. Just because there’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” stemware option doesn’t mean it’s necessary to empty one’s bank account on an esoteric collection of strange glasses. Instead, here are five types of stemware that cover the wide range reds, whites, sparklers and dessert wines available for pouring. Click Here to Shop for Wine Stemware 1. Red Wine Glasses Apart from dessert wines, reds offer the most complex, bold flavors that wine has to offer. It’s no surprise, then, why the bowls of red wine glasses tend to be fuller and more round than other types of stemware, which allows for the opportunity for one to stick his or her nose deep into the glass to take in all of the pleasant aromas of the wine. Because such complex scents live within certain red wines, these types of glasses typically offer the largest amount of surface area possible to ensure that the aromas are properly released from swirling. While red wine glasses can vary in shapes and sizes, it’s best to choose one that falls somewhere down the middle in terms of bowl structure and overall size. There are, however, two specific styles of red wine glasses that are worth mentioning: Burgundy and Bordeaux. Burgundy glasses are perfect for lighter wines, such as the Italian Frappato or a light Pinot Noir. They tend to be shorter with a wider bowl, allowing for a great deal of the wine’s surface area to be in contact with the air. Bordeaux glasses— ideal for Cabernet and Merlot — are taller, with smaller bowls that hold concentrated amounts of bold reds. Many styles of red wine call for specific stemware sizes, but most home wine enthusiasts will be able to get by just fine with a few glasses each of Bordeaux-style and Burgundy-style stemware. 2. White Wine Glasses White wine is loved the world over for its light, refreshing aspects that pair perfectly with seafood, chicken and hot summer days. While not quite as demanding as red wine in terms of stemware specifics, white wine does require the right glass in order to be enjoyed to its fullest. These wines tend to be “U-shaped,” standing more upright than the red wine glasses that many people are more familiar with. What this does is allows for the wine’s aroma to be properly released while ensuring that its temperature is also kept cool. Because white wines tend to be slightly less aromatic than reds, openings at the top of white wine glasses are not typically as wide as the alternative. When choosing the right white wine stemware, it’s important to take the age of the wine being served into consideration. Younger whites, for example, tend to be on the sweeter side, which is why they’re often served in glassware with slightly larger openings that direct the wine to the sides of the tongue. Whites that have matured should be served in stemware that is taller and straighter, which will help to direct the rich, complex flavors of these wines to the back of the tongue for maximum enjoyment. 3. Rosé Wine Glasses The first pours of Rosé for the year often mark the coming of spring and summer, its vibrant pink color dancing with excitement in the glass. While many of the Rosés sold in the United States are characteristic of a medium sweetness, European Rosé tends to be much dryer and more crisp. It’s not uncommon for people to make the mistake of serving Rosé in a red wine glass, but there are two much better options available. Click Here To Shop For A Wine Decanter First, consider Rosé stemware that features a slight taper and a short bowl, not unlike a globe. This is the perfect style of glass for serving mature Rosé, as the shorter bowl allows for the wine’s rich, complex sweet flavors to jump out of the glass. Younger Rosés will benefit from being served in glasses that feature short bowls and flared lips, which allow the wine to run directly onto the tip of the tongue to accentuate their lively, racy characteristics. 4. Sparkling Wine Glasses There is perhaps no better way to kick off a celebration than with a chilled bottle of sparkling wine. Sparkling wine can come in many different varieties, with Champagne and Prosecco being the two most well-known. Ranging in carbonation from mild to aggressive, the bubbles are the star of the show with most sparklers, and it’s essential to keep them from dissipating. Pouring an expensive bottle of Champagne into a large-bowled red wine glass is truly one of the biggest mistakes that a wine enthusiast can make. The wine will retain its flavor, but its carbonation will dissipate within seconds. Instead, sparkling wine should always be served in an upright, narrow flute, which will retain the wine’s bubbles and ensure that each sip is as effervescent as the first. 5. Dessert Wine Glasses Dessert wines are a bit of a confusion point for many wine lovers–even those who have been enjoying wine for decades. While not quite as popular as more traditional wines, dessert varietals can be unbelievably complex and deserve recognition as being some of the most unique beverages in the world. There are a variety of different types of dessert wines, ranging in sweetness from “just barely” to “absolutely cloying”. Some dessert wines are fortified, which means they’ve been blended with a liquor such as Brandy. This boosts the wine’s alcohol content to at least 15%, although many dessert wines range higher. Choosing the right glass for serving dessert wines can be a challenge, especially considering their strength and general sweetness. Because they can be cloying when taken at the tip of the tongue, it’s best to choose a glass that will direct the wine to the back and sides of the tongue to avoid overwhelming the palate. The stemware must also be smaller due to the fact that dessert wines tend to be much higher in alcohol than traditional wines, thus requiring smaller pours. Sherry glasses are effective for serving dessert wines, though there are plenty of different options to choose from that can work effectively and with elegance. Stemware “Dont’s”: All-Purpose and Stemless Glassware Walk around any wine or kitchen retailer, and it doesn’t take long to realize that there are more options to choose from when it comes to stemware than most people know what to do with. Many types of wine glasses are designed with novelty in mind, while others are sold simply because they don’t require any thought to be utilized. However, this doesn’t mean that they’ll actually do the wine any favors, and if they’re not on the above list, chances are they won’t. “All-purpose” stemware has risen in popularity over the course of the past few decades to a noticeable degree. These glasses are designed to be well-rounded vessels that can accommodate any varietal or style of wine, eliminating the need for guesswork or having to choose specific types of stemware based on whatever wine is being served. Unsurprisingly, they almost always disappoint, halting the nuances of most wines from ever showing themselves. Just because all-purpose stemware seems like the easy way out doesn’t mean that the end result will be the same–it most certainly will not. Another “don’t” in the world of stemware eliminates the stem altogether. Stemless glassware is a trend that started not long ago in restaurants and bars throughout the world, and it has done little to further the wine world. For one, stemless glassware differs from stemware in that the bowl of the glass is in direct contact with the hand, thus warming the glass and the wine inside prematurely. On a hot summer day, for example, chilled whites become lukewarm within minutes. Stemless glassware also results in fingerprints getting all over the glass, which can make it difficult to properly view the wine as it is being consumed and can take away from an elegant presentation. Its modern design is also at odds with that of many home kitchens, thus relegating it to a more metropolitan bar/restaurant environment. Nevertheless, they are quite popular among beginner wine drinkers. No wine lover should be without at least 4 glasses for each of the 5 styles mentioned above, avoiding all-purpose and stemless glassware at all costs. This can make it easy to entertain a crowd no matter what types of wines are being served, and it’s the first step towards diving deeper into a passion for the wonderful world of wine and what it has to offer.