This week: why do wine glasses have stems and other vital issues confronting mankind.
Stems: Stems make wine glasses look pretty and set them apart, but they also have a practical raison d’être. Temperature is important in wine. Red wines should be served in mid 60 degrees, some even cooler. Whites and sparklings are best at l0 to 20 degrees cooler than reds. When you cup your hand around the bowel, you heat it. Hold the glass by the stem or the foot (base) and the wine will stay closer to best drinking temperature.
Aroma is the most important component in experiencing wine. If you place the glass on a flat surface and hold by the stem/foot, it is a much easier and more efficient way to swirl the wine and release those critical aromas.
Wine also is visual. Clean stemware is a better experience than gazing through oily hand prints, thus hold by the stem.
Soap, washing, drying. What is the best soap to clean a wine glass? There is none. Wine glasses should not experience the indignity of soap. No matter how much you rinse, soap will leave aroma and tastes. Hot water is the best way to clean a wine glass. Employ a soft rag or sponge if needed. A bit of baking soda works on stubborn stains.
Dry and polish with soft, lint-free cloth like a flour sack; a microfiber cloth specifically designed for wine glasses is even better. When washing or drying, never hold the stem in one hand and twist the bowl with the other. Wine glasses react poorly when twisted at their weakest points. Hold the bowl. Polish while glass is still damp to avoid water sports
Best single wine glass? Makers like Riedel don’t like it, but you can go with a single glass without shame—many professionals go this route. It is called a universal glass. Get a high quality, medium-size glass. It will work with all wines while big-bowl red wine glasses and sparkling flutes will not.
Does the glass really make a difference? Yes. Thinner the bowl, the better wine tastes. Thinner glass lets you notice the wine; thicker, you notice the glass. Best is crystal (mineralized) glass. For quality you will spend $20-60.
Last round: Over a glass of wine: “Mom, what is it like to have the greatest daughter ever?”
Mom: “I don’t know. You would have to ask your grandmother.”