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War Of The Glasses: Does Wine Glass Matters?

July 6, 2011 4 comments

Of course the topic of wine glasses and their effect on wine’s perceived quality (which includes smell, taste and overall pleasure) is a very popular subject among wine lovers (professionals are also not immune to such discussions). I have no intention to claim any original or unique thoughts on the subject – instead, I want to merely report on my own personal experiment.

We started with 6 different glasses and a bottle of wine. For this experiment, I wanted to use a wine with classic flavor profile, nothing too obscure – seems that Cabernet Sauvignon would ideally fit the bill. I can tell you now that I was moderately happy with the choice of wine. While I like Cosentino wines, this 2005 Cosentino Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was more fruit forward than I appreciate, but still it was not a very bad choice.

The glasses included: Riedel Cabernet Sauvignon Glass, Riedel Universal tasting (also can be called “restaurant special”, 489 0 in Riedel nomenclature) glass (holds 20 oz), a wide open, almost “square” glass (don’t know if it has a special name), small (8 oz) universal tasting glass, plastic cup and small paper cup.


Now for the notes (results are presented in the exact succession as glasses were assessed):

Riedel Cabernet Glass:
Nose: big concentration, noticeable alcohol, smell of a wet dog (must be something wrong with me)
Palate: lots of fruit, black currant, still quite sharp

Riedel Universal (489 0):
Nose: good concentration of the fruit, alcohol is less noticeable
Palate: very good fruit, round taste

“Square” glass:
Nose: some fruit are a bit more open (black currant), overall less alcohol, less fruit concentration.
Palate: taste is ok, a bit less of everything

Small universal tasting glass (8 oz):
Nose: almost like previous one, noticeable fruit
Palate: the softest of all! Nice round fruit

Plastic cup:
Nose: literally nothing
Palate: ok, similar to the one above

Paper cup:
Nose: none
Palate: bad

Let’s try to come up with some conclusions now. I think two universal tasting glasses fared the best – size difference didn’t matter. Of course bigger glass was more convenient to use, but outside of aesthetics of wine appearance in a bigger glass, they delivered literally the same flavor and taste. We can also safely say that paper cups shouldn’t be used if you are drinking wine to enjoy it (that was a definite looser). Plastic cup can be used, but you will lose the pleasure of the smell, so if you can avoid it, then avoid it. “Square” glass was okay, but again you will be losing on the aroma details. Lastly, Riedel Cabernet glass still requires more experiments. It was definitely not the best glass in this tasting, but I believe that it might enhance the taste of some particular Cabernet wine, most likely less alcohol, old-world style wine, where it will actually be able to enhance subtle aromas and flavors.

For now, don’t drink your wine from the paper cups, and save the money by avoiding those super-expensive “specialty” glasses, and you will do quite well. And if you have an opinion (different one? even better!) – leave a comment, and let’s have a debate. Cheers!

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