Some manufacturers have developed specific glasses to suit the characteristics of different wine varietals, but assembling a collection of varietal specific glasses can take a toll on your wallet and cabinet space. While some wine enthusiasts may prefer varietal specific glasses, for those who want to keep it simple, here’s the scoop on the two basic types of glasses that should meet all your needs.
A good all-purpose glass will suffice for both red and white wine. It should be clear so that the color and richness of the wine are not obscured or distorted by colored glass or designs. To prevent your hand from warming the wine, and leaving unsightly fingerprints, the glass should have a stem. The bowl of the glass needs to be large enough to hold a serving of wine while allowing room for it to be swirled (allowing the wine to coat the sides of the glass enables one to detect more subtle aromas), and it should be narrower at the rim than at the base, so that it directs aromas to your nose. Experiencing the aromas is important because smell plays a major role in the way we perceive the flavors of food and beverages. (For more on how the Swirl, the Stare and the Sniff help you get to know your glass of wine better, click Tasting Wine.)
Champagne and sparkling wine do require a different shaped glass. They should be served in a flute—a tall, stemmed glass with a narrow bowl. This glass shape helps preserve the effervescence of these wines because it has less surface area from which the bubbles can escape, and it shows off the bubbles nicely.
Now all you need is a bottle of wine and a toast!