Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The science of wine glasses

Most consumers are overwhelmed by the large variety of wine glasses. Some manufacturers (Riedel, Spiegelau, Schott..) designed glassware for different wine style, naming after the wine grape variety. The standard tasting glass devised by the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) has a height of 6 inches and holds 7.25 ounces of liquid. A slightly larger glass is also available that holds 10.5 ounces and is 6.875 inches tall. The glass has a tulip shape on a stem which enables the wine to be swirled easily around the bowl to encourage aeration of the wine. The design is such that it has an effective presentation to the eyes, the nose and the tongue of the person tasting the wine. In wine tasting, one looks for clarity, color intensity and its shades. The nose seeks the aroma, intensity, condition of the wine as one breathes in the bouquet. Finally, the tongue confirms the sweetness, acidity, tannin, body, intensity, flavor and length of the wine. All these act in concert to reach a conclusion on the quality of the wine, giving the person tasting the wine a complete picture of its grape varietal, production region and vintage.

Glasses that are designed for different wine style generally vary in the size and height of the bowl. What I have noticed is that the bowl size for wine style such as Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo tends to be bigger in diameter and tapers towards the mouth piece more than those designed for other grape varietals. I supposed this is because the Pinot Noir is more gently perfumed than most red grapes and often carries a nose of raspberries over a nice, sweet palate. The tapering angle is such that the person tasting the wine will enjoy the sweet entry of the liquid as the shaped guide the wine along the tip of the tongue (where the sweet senses are) through to the side and back of the throat. The fine tannins of this grape is easy on the palate and with the sweetness at the tip of the tongue, the positive characteristics of a pinot noir are most elaborated.

A champagne glass has an elongated bowl because it is fun to watch the bubbles in the wine rising towards the surface. Although a standard INAO glass may provide a better tasting experience in terms of capturing the aroma and bouquet of a good Champagne, part of the fun in drinking a wine is to observe and taste. As long as the glassware meets the functions of basic wine tasting, all variations that pleases the eyes and the “swirling” experience is a matter of choice to the consumers.

Cher Lim
Wine Treasures Pte Ltd
Email: limce@singnet.com.sg



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