The width of the glass – or ‘bowl’ – affects how much of the wine is exposed to the air and can impact the aroma of the wine. Red wine glasses have a wide, round bowl to release the aroma of the wine and to allow for more space for the wine to breathe. White wine, meanwhile, is best with only a slight oxidation, so a narrower and taller bowl with a reduced surface area helps to preserve the nuances of the delicate white wine. Don’t forget to also look at the rim of the glass. As a general rule, a tapered shape helps concentrate the aroma of the wine at the top of the glass and prevents potential spillage from swirling. Flared rims direct the flow of the wine toward the front of the palate, allowing the wine to spread more evenly, tempering acidity.
Traditionally, the stem is used to prevent fingerprints from staining the glass so the rich shades of the wine can be clearly seen through the glass. A wine glass should always be held on the stem so your hands do not heat up the wine – white wine glasses therefore have much longer stems than red wine glasses do, as they are normally chilled. Though stemless glasses offer a sleek, contemporary look, true wine connoisseurs will always opt for a glass with stem.
Glass vs. Crystal
Wine glasses are typically made from either glass or crystal; crystal is a type of glass but not all glass is crystal. Crystal usually contains lead oxide, which makes it more easily cut into thinner and delicate designs, intensifying the aroma of the wine when swirled in the crystal glass. Glass stemware, on the other hand, is lighter in weight than crystal, more durable and tends to be dishwasher-safe.