Cassidy on May 1, 2013 1 Comment There is much more to quality stemware than that charming ring of crystal glasses clinking. Apart from its glamorous appearance, proper glassware has a tremendous impression on your wine experience. Think of the factors impacted by stemware – color, taste and aroma – and you’ll quickly understand what’s at stake. The perfect stemware can enhance a wine two-fold. Many different shapes, styles and qualities exist, but the most important factors look for are a colorless, tulip-shaped, crystal glass with a thin rim and stem. Tulip Shape The tulip shape allows ample space for swirling and development of the wine’s bouquet. The large bowl leading up to the small opening makes the wine’s aroma hit your nose at the perfect spot. This is crucial because the majority of what we taste is actually the work of your olfactory bulb. Thin Rim A thin, properly shaped lip allows for wine to flow into the mouth and hit the most sensory areas of the tongue, whereas a thick rim could actually accentuate flaws and bitterness. A thick rim tends to distract from the taste of the wine whereas a thin rim has little impact. Crystal Crystal is important for wine because it has a rougher texture than regular glass that helps the wine release its aromas. Traditional crystal has lead in it, but increasingly stemware manufacturers are making their stemware lead-free. A popular example of this lead-free glassware is that of Schott Zwiesel. In a special tempering process, they are able to use special additives such as titanium instead of lead. This makes it so that the glassware is not only dishwasher safe but also scratch, break, and etch resistant. Stem Though stemless glasses are easier to store in tight spaces, the stem on your wine glass actually serves a very vital purpose. The stem on wine glasses is the intended place to hold your wine for two reasons: to prevent fingerprints from showing up on the glass and also to prevent the wine from being warmed by your hand. This is why brandy glasses are stemless, because it is intended to be served warmed.Depending on the type, some stems are much longer than others, providing ample distance from the hand in order to keep the wine chilled or vice versa. Red and White Specific From these initial factors you can decide if you want to get into varietal specific glassware, or keep it simple with purchasing a set for reds and whites. In general, a red glass has a larger bowl allowing more space for the wine bouquet to unfold. Whites have a smaller bowl with longer stem to prevent from warming which occurs in a larger glass, closer to the hand. Varietal Specific Stemware With varietal-specific stemware, there are a few more factors involved: shape and size of the bowl, taper of the lip and length of the stem to name a few. If you are starting a varietal-specific stemware collection, here is where I recommend you start: Bordeaux: A Bordeaux glass has a wide, large bowl with perfect spacing for the development of hearty red wine bouquets of Cabernet, Malbec and Merlot. These glasses have an average length stem to keep the wine medium distance from the hand for correct serving temperature. Burgundy: Burgundy glasses should be the largest in any stemware collection and are best used with delicate Burgundy wines that need an even larger space to develop their aromas. Some have a distinct turned out lip which directs the fruity flavor of these wines directly to the palate. Sauvignon Blanc: Sauvignon Blanc glasses are tall and slender, directing the crisp, fresh aroma straight to the nose. A longer stem keeps the narrow bowl ample distance from the hand, ensuring the wine is chilled and confined from larger space to warm like the red glasses. Chardonnay: Chardonnay is best enjoyed in stemware with a wide bowl which slightly tapers at the rim. Much like the Sauvignon glasses, the stem is longer to focus on keeping the wine as cool and crisp as possible. The only way to truly know if it makes a difference is to give it a try, so get sipping!