In every corner of the wine industry, you will find connoisseurs who insist that the glass you drink from is as important as the wine you've chosen. That the right glass will enhance the taste of the wine. Now, enter any major department or kitchen store, and you'll have dozens to choose from, and ranging in prices from just a couple of dollars on up to hundreds per glass. What's all the fuss about?
I certainly want to know. A lot of it is a marketing ploy: we've come to mystify wine glasses in the same way we're taught to believe that expensive wine is better, and that there are "correct" wine choices. There are certainly people who "get it" and choose their wine glasses accordingly. And if that's important to you, go for it. For the rest of us, understand that you can have an extremely enjoyable experience with your wine, regardless of the glass. Remember, in some parts of the world wine is drunk from small juice glasses. Wine is wine; the glass doesn't make the wine. There are, however, some basics you should know about how to choose wine glasses:
1. Red or white? Red wine is typically served in glasses with wider mouths because it allows the wine to breathe. Same with the very large glasses - you know the ones I'm talking about. It just lets more air in, which brings out any complex, rich flavors. Because white wine is made to be consumed quickly and does not hold up to the aging process very well, it is most often served in the narrower-mouthed and smaller glasses. That's the only reason, and so you can now feel free to throw out this rule when you're at home--you won't likely notice any difference based on the glass. We sure don't.
2. What about stemless wine glasses? Stemless glasses are all the rage right now, and can be extremely fun. They come in many varieties and shapes and in both red and white styles. However, we typically stick to drinking red wine from stemless glasses, only because white wine warms up too quickly in our grasp. (BTW, that's the same reason people hold white wine from the stem - to avoid warming the liquid during consumption.)
3. Do looks matter? Yes! Wine is an experience, something you linger over and savor. At home you should have glasses that you love to hold. I have a favorite amber-glassed goblet for my red wine; Nate prefers our stemless most often
4. How much should I expect to pay? That's up to you. But I encourage you to keep in mind the words of a very wise friend, shared many years ago. Glasses break. We know it. You shouldn't have to worry every time you go to use your favorite glasses. Spend only what won't seem like a lot when the inevitable happens. And focus on the fun!