I used to laugh off one of my bougie friend's insistence that the shape of my glass would affect the flavour of my wine. What was wrong with drinking wine from a random old mug — or straight from the bottle, for that matter?
But she was actually totally right. Dr. Kohji Mitsubayashi and his colleagues at Tokyo Medical and Dental University recently published a study that measured ethanol vapor escaping from different types of glasses. And as it turns out: "The shape of the wineglass has a very sophisticated and functional design for tasting and enjoying the aroma of wine."
The inverted rim of your wineglass actually creates a higher alcohol concentration around the top of your glass and reduces the concentration in the centre of your glass, allowing you to enjoy the wine's bouquet more. "This ring phenomenon allows us to enjoy the wine aroma without interference of gaseous ethanol," explain the study authors. This phenomenon doesn't occur when you drink wine out of a martini glass or a straight glass, and I'm assuming the same is true for people who may or may not drink wine out of old pickle jars you find lying around too.
So what type of wineglass is best? It depends. If you're trying to pace yourself, researchers from the University of Cambridge found that drinking from a smaller glass was optimal, as larger glasses do encourage you to drink more. The researchers found that wine sales at a local pub were 9 per cent higher when patrons drank from larger glasses. “It may be people perceiving the glass to contain less and drinking it faster,” said lead researcher Theresa Marteau.
While some diehard wine enthusiasts could suggest a different glass for practically every different type of wine, you're best choosing a couple of different types of glasses that suit your tastes if you want to up your wine game. Canadian wine reviewer Natalie MacLean helps demystify choosing the right glass.
MacLean found, for instance, that white Burgundy glasses are best for "big, buttery chardonnays because of their wider bowls"; sauvignon blanc is best served in a "more slender glass, with a bowl that’s between those of the chardonnay and sparkling wine stemware"; pinot noir "benefits from a red Burgundy glass, with a much wider bowl and comparatively narrow rim"; and cabernet sauvignons are "best shaped and delivered by the Bordeaux glass with its generous bowl and elegant inward curvature at the top."
So now you know. But honestly, nobody's judging if you're still going to stick with the old jam jars.
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