If you’re looking to step up your wine game, the initial options for glassware can be overwhelming – white, red, or sparkling? Tumbler, flute, or tulip? Crystal or glass? Your choices will depend on your tastes and habits. If you are truly just starting out, let’s cover the basics: Shape and glassware.
To start, you should invest in two wine glass sets: red and white. The shape of the glass impacts the tasting experience, so it’s worth differentiating.
Stemware is comprised of the bowl, stem, and foot, and the main difference between red and white wine glasses is the size of the bowl. Red wines will have larger bowls, allowing for a larger surface area. More exposure for the air mitigates the bitterness of the red and allows for a smother taste. Additionally, the larger distance helps deliver more aroma compounds. In contrast, the smaller surface area of white wine glasses preserves floral aromas and allows for a cooler temperature.
Of course dessert wines, sparkling wines, and other specialty wines may call for different types of stemware, but if you’re starting out and want a smaller budget, these two types of glasses are fine.
If the purpose of your wine set is functional and you are bringing out your set often for the purpose of partying and pairing with dinner, basic glassware is your friend. Crystal is porous and requires hand-washing, so if you’re looking for easy clean-up, glassware allows you to end your night by tossing your wine set into the dishwasher with the rest of your dinnerware. This option is affordable and durable – stick with glass if you are prone to knocking things over.
Crystal is if you’re dressing to impress. While crystal does not technically have a crystalline structure, it refracts light, giving it a special sparkle. Crystal glass contains minerals, and a stronger glass makes for a thinner glass. If you host fancy get-togethers or pride yourself on upscale dinner sets, these may be worth the added upkeep for you.
Of course a quick online search will show you that the shopping options for stemware are endless. Classic, modern, quirky – styles and combinations abound. But the basic ABCs of wine sets are easy for any entertainer to grasp.