In a pinch, we've all had wine from a less-than-ideal vessel like a Mason jar or a red plastic cup. And if you thought that the wine tasted a bit off, it wasn't just your imagination. Even excellent wines can taste horrible in the wrong glass, which is why choosing the right glass is so important for enhancing the taste and aroma of the wine you drink. So clear out those cabinets and invest in some quality stemware — wine has never tasted so good!
Learn more about wine: Wine tasting 101 >>
We all know that the shape of a wine glass matters — why else would we need a whole different set of glasses for Champagne? Red wines typically need a large bowl with a slight narrowing at the top of the glass. This shape allows the wine to aerate within the bowl and the aromas to release and hit your nose properly. White wines are typically best served in narrow glasses with a smaller bowl, as they don't need to breathe as much as red wines and the more narrow shape helps keep the wine colder. Champagne flutes are the most narrow, which keeps the bubbles from escaping too quickly out of a large opening.
For wine glasses, thinner is better. A thick heavy glass not only distorts the appearance of the wine, it can also change the taste. Thinner glass allows the wine to enter your mouth most optimally. Also pay attention to the rim of the glass. Look for glasses with a cut rim, meaning no lip or roll at the top. The cut rim lets the wine flow out of the glass smoothly; a rolled rim inhibits the flow and can change the flavor characteristics.
Read these tips for hosting a wine and cheese party >>
So maybe size does matter… at least with wine glasses. Regardless of the shape, the size of the bowl of a wine glass should be large enough so that a full serving of wine doesn't fill up more than half the glass. This allows the wine to be swirled and the aromas to properly collect within the bowl, rather than escaping from a too-full smaller bowl.
Bright, colorful wine glasses can add pizzazz to your table, but they do nothing for wine. A plain, clear wine glass is all you need to let your wine shine. Since you taste with your eyes first, the beauty of a deep red or crisp white will be noticed long before the wine hits your tongue, so leave the colored glass for the water.
Check out these top 10 things to do with wine besides drink it >>
Remember, you don't need to break the bank on a set of wine glasses. Instead of buying varietal-specific glasses, buy a universal shape that can work with most wines, keeping in mind glass thickness and bowl size. Quality budget-friendly glasses range from $10 to $15, like these Spiegelau Hybrid Universal Wine Glasses.
Watch: How to select the right wine glass
Learn how to select the right wine glass in this video.
More on wine