Picture this: You’re having a wine aficionado over for a drink. The conversation is flowing, and you decide to pour yourself a glass of wine. The nearest bottle is a nice red, the nearest glass a champagne flute. “What does it matter?” You think. “A glass is a glass” But as you pour the wine you hear a choked gasp and a thump. Your guest is dead, killed by second hand shame.
While it’s unlikely (but not impossible) that using the wrong type of wine glass would result in the death of your friends, there are concrete, proven reasons why you should drink certain types of wine in certain types of glasses.
When it comes to red wine, you’re going to want to use a glass with a wide, open bowl. The reason for this is that reds need contact with air in order for the flavors in their tannins to activate. If you drink red wine from a small glass you won’t actually be getting the full, authentic flavor. Make sure to give your glass a swirl as well before taking a sip!
White wines are the opposite. Their flavor isn’t affected by air contact, so it’s best to use a smaller glass that can direct the aromas directly into your nose and mouth. These types of glasses also work best for rosé wine.
The world of wine glasses doesn’t just stop at red vs white– There are nearly as many varieties of glasses and there are varieties of wine, and each pairing is perfectly fitted to match the specific flavor needs of the wine-drinking experience. Sparkling wines, for example, are served in champagne flutes because the long, thin bowl helps keep the carbonation fresh. Cabernets have tall bowls so the full-bodied wine does not linger on the tongue for too long.
The list goes on. No matter how impressive a wine’s pedigree, the drink is never complete until the wine is matched with the perfect glass. That’s not to say that it’s a crime to drink wine out of the wrong glass– just make sure your wine snob friends aren’t around when you do it.