Because smell is an important part of wine enjoyment—likely the most important—wineglasses are specially shaped to present a wine’s “nose” (bouquet). Swirl the wine to expose it to air and release aroma, then put your nose into the glass and experience the wine’s individual smell.
So, what wineglass best serves an eonophile’s olfactory organ?
Traditional wineglasses have three parts: bowl, stem, and foot. You hold the glass by the stem and foot so you don’t heat the wine or put fingerprints on the bowl. The bowl’s tapering shape concentrates the bouquet for your nose to smell.
There are two types of bowls: tulip and balloon. In general, tulip does a better job of presenting the wine’s bouquet to your nose; most fine wineglasses are variations on that shape.
For reds, a tulip-shaped “Bordeaux” (or “red wine”) glass holding 14 ounces or more is the all-purpose winner. It also can be used for water or iced tea; pick this if you only buy one set of glasses. The balloon version is called a “Burgundy” glass.
For whites, use a smaller tulip-shaped glass holding about 11 ounces—the smaller bowl helps prevent whites from getting too warm.
Pick an even smaller tulip-shape or flute holding about eight ounces for sparkling wines—smaller and narrower preserves bubbles. Wide, shallow sherbet bowls sometimes associated with champagne are exactly the wrong shape.
Fill each glass about one-third full to best expose wine to air. Swirl. Inhale. Enjoy.
• Roc de Châteauvieux Vouvray. Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley $14
• Robert Hall Cabernet Sauvignon. Smooth California Paso Robles, fruit, spice. $23
• Marques de Caceres Rose. Fresh, elegant, strawberry and raspberry sorbet. Spain. $10