Does the shape of your wine glass matter?

Does the shape of your wine glass matter - different glass shapes

Does the shape of your wine glass matter?  

Does the shape of your wine glass really matter? Well, the short answer is yes. When discussing wine, we often jump straight to the question of - what is in the glass? But the glass itself is important.  Wine glasses come in all shapes and sizes and, yes, sometimes they can be a bit gimmicky but by and large they are shaped the way they are for a reason.  

Last week I read a blog which suggested 16 different wine glasses for your home! While there are some very specific wine glasses for the connoisseur, 16 is far too many for the typical drinker. Who has that much cupboard space? I have been known, in an emergency, to use a coffee cup and while I do not suggest glugging 20-year-old claret out of a pint glass, I do believe that some common sense needs to prevail. I have pared down the super-sized list of 16 to a very reasonable, ‘three absolute essentials’ plus one ‘would be nice to have’ glass.

I buy all my glassware and accessories from - I think the range is excellent.

The Essential Wine Glass Collection 

1. The Bordeaux Glass – There is a clue in the name

The Shape Explained 

The Bordeaux glass can come in various designs but fundamentally the glass is tall, with a broad bowl. The rim is in a similar profile to the bowl of the glass making it relatively narrow. The premise behind the Bordeaux glass is to direct the wine to the back of the palate. This is desirable for fuller-bodied red wines and fruit-driven whites. The aromas of these wines tend to be pronounced and therefore don’t need encouraging out of the glass. 

What to Pour into the Glass? 

Ultimately this glass is designed for Bordeaux-blend reds, these are Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated wines, often including Petit Verdot and Cabernet franc. These are big, powerful and rich wines best suited to the smaller glass.

The glass is also traditionally used for Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon and, because we are paring down the collection, you can also use the Bordeaux glass for other punchy reds such as Syrah and Malbec.

This glass is also your utility glass for any fresh white wines, anything fruit forward, young or ‘simple’. Technically a white wine glass will have a smaller opening and a narrower bowl than the Bordeaux glass - this in theory keeps the wine cooler and prevents aeration - but we are paring down the collection, so a Bordeaux glass is best for whites.  

The Perfect Pairing

CHÂTEAU DE CHAMBRUN 2017 MONCETS-CHAMBRUN - Bordeaux glasses cry out for a regal Pomerol. Chambrun has a classic Pomerol nose of plums, chocolate, freshly ground coffee and cigar-box, and these will slowly wind their way out the Bordeaux glass. Big, ripe fruit flavours will be pushed to the back of the palate. Northing beats top notch Bordeaux from the perfect glass.  


Modern Bordeaux Glass

2. The Burgundy Glass – Class in a Glass

The Shape Explained 

The Burgundy glass is designed for lighter, more elegant wines. The glass is usually shorter with a large bowl and a tapered rim. Here the idea is to direct the wine to the tip of the tongue where more delicate flavours can be detected. The shape of the glass also encourages the aromas to rise from the glass. The large bowl shape increases the surface area of wine in contact with the air which allows the wine to breath – this can be useful if the wine is a ‘bit closed’ and needs encouragement to release the intricate and often very delicate flavours.  

What to Pour into the Glass? 

Again, it should come as no surprise, wines from the Burgundy region of France are perfectly suited to being drunk from the glass baring their name. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are perfect for this glass.

Aromas are encouraged out of the glass allowing it to breath where necessary and directing the complex and often delicate flavours to the tip of the tongue. In our three/four glass collection, the Burgundy glass is also used for other delicate or aged reds such as Barolos, Barberas and Barberescos. Use this glass for any aged white where fruit has been overtaken by tertiary aromas (ageing flavours) and/or by winemaking characteristics like oak. 


The Perfect Pairing

CUMBERLAND RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2018 BERGSTRÖM - What better pairing for the wide bowled Burgundy glass than a premium Pinot from Oregon? The wine is elegant and delicate but once swirled through this glass the aromas will dance out at you. 


Burgundy Glass

3. Flute – Fizz needs a Flute

The Shape Explained 

The tall narrow glass traps the bubbles and the aromas in the glass. A small scratch or imperfection at the very bottom of the glass causes the bubbles to spiral up in that classic uniform fashion. A good glass polishing cloth will keep your flutes squeaky clean and ensure those bubbles rise correctly.

What to Pour into the Glass? 

Simple – anything fizzy goes in a flute. Old-fashioned Champagne coups may give you a Great Gatsby vibe, but they over-aerate the wine and kill the bubbles. You may opt for a Bordeaux glass for gently sparkling Pet Nat such as Cruse Wine Co. Valdiguie Pet Nat and lightly sparkling rosés but everything else that has bubbles goes in the flute. 

Champagne Flutes

4. The Port Glass – The go to for fortified and dessert wines (nice but not essential)

The Shape Explained 

A port glass is typically small, like a mini Bordeaux glass. The reasoning behind this is two-fold. First, the aromatics are concentrated in the smaller glass, which is why Port glasses as often used as tasting glasses. Secondly, your hand is close to the wine, like in a whiskey glass. This heats the wine slightly and releases aromas. The ABV of port and many dessert wines is also much higher so you are pouring less, and thus a smaller glass makes sense.

What to Pour into the Glass? 

Port, sherry and sweet dessert wines. You could use these glasses for grappa. These glasses also double up as ISO-tasting glasses for all the same reasons they are good as Port glasses.

There you have it. Three essential wine glasses and a nice to have bonus glass. If you are looking to add to this, Syrah glasses and Rosé glasses could be worth the investment if you drink a lot of these wines. 



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