There was a time I was sure a different set of stemware of glasses for every different varietal wine in my cellar was an absolute necessity. These days, specialists are pretty sure the difference in the taste of the wine is negligible when it comes to shape, however I am still 100 per cent certain, the stem, lip and quality of the glass I use, makes a big difference to the wine.
Apart from its glamorous appearance, proper glassware has a tremendous impression on your wine experience from the colour to aroma or smell and taste.
Many different shapes, styles and qualities of stemware exist, but the most important factors to look for are a colourless, tulip-shaped, crystal glass with a thin rim and stem.
The tulip shape allows ample space for swirling and development of the bouquet. The large bowl leading up to the small opening makes the wine's aroma hit your nose at the perfect spot. This is crucial because the majority of what we taste is actually the work of your olfactory bulb, that secretive organ that gives us a sense of smell.
A thin, properly shaped lip allows for wine to flow into the mouth and hit the most sensory areas of the tongue, whereas a thick rim could actually accentuate flaws and bitterness. A thick rim tends to distract from the taste of the wine whereas a thin rim has little impact.
Though stemless glasses are easier to store in tight spaces, the stem on your wine glass actually serves two vital purposes. To prevent fingerprints from marking the glass and also to stop the wine warming up.
In general, a red glass has a larger bowl allowing more space for the wine bouquet to unfold. Whites have a smaller, narrower bowl with longer stem to prevent wine warming up as it is closer to your hand.
Always smell your glass before you pour wine into it, as it may have an odour from the cupboard or cardboard box it has been in.
I have a handy hint for washing your precious wine glasses, but it does involve having quite a few sets! I "collect" my dirty glasses until I have around 10 that need washing and then run the dishwasher with these glasses without any other dishes and no detergent. This prevents getting that residual coating inside the glass that can give off a smell.