Simple, clear, uncut stemware of moderate proportion is best for serving wine. Crystal is not essential, but the thinner the walls of the bowl, the better. Colorless, uncut glass reveals color and clarity; thinness minimizes distortion. Filling the glass no more than half (a quarter to third for large balloons) leaves room for the bouquet to collect in the top of the bowl.
It is critical that glasses (and decanters) be immaculately clean. Any residue, especially soap, will interfere with the taste of the wine. This applies both to visible residue and aromatic residue (sniff the glass). Any suspect glass should be thoroughly rinsed in clear water and dried well. The glass may also be rinsed again with a little of the wine to be poured.
Champagne and sparkling wines should never be served in saucer-shaped glasses (coupes). The bubbles the winemaker worked so hard to create will dissipate on the surface of the wine and flatten it in short order. “Tulips,” whose long bowls curve in slightly at the top, and “flutes,” which curve out slightly or not at all, are best for the job.
For still wines, a lightweight, stemmed glass with an ovoid bowl of 8 to 10 ounces’ capacity will accommodate most wines quite well.
While numerous glassmakers have created lines of glassware suited to specific wine types, not everyone wants to acquire a glass library. Riedel, Mikasa and Spiegelau are highly respected in wine glass design, and offers many options from a basic, inexpensive glass set to an extensive range of highly specific, mouth-blown glasses.
Click here to view our wine glass selections.