So you’ve spent time putting together a great menu and treating yourself to your favourite wine and it’s time to set the table. Then you open the glass cupboard and realise that your glass selection has seen better days and actually you only have 3 sparkling wine glasses left, but does it really matter what you serve your wine in any way?
Now I may be biased but I would say if you’ve gone to all that trouble that why not show that wine off at its best. You don’t need a vast array of wine glasses but a small selection is a good idea. For sparkling wine, the flute shape allows those all-important bubbles to rise to the surface and not be lost quickly, it also focuses the aromas up to the nose and that’s where the wine experience starts.
However you wash those sparkling wine glasses, and Adam at Opaque will advise which should be hand washed and which can go through the machine, make sure that there are no traces of detergent, grease or lipstick left as these can break down the bubble quickly.
There are many glasses dedicated to different grapes and designed to enhance particular characteristics so if you are an avid Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling fan, then why not indulge in a glass that has been designed with that grape in mind. Otherwise a general white wine glass is a good option, smaller than a red wine glass, the focus is about preserving the fruit and the freshness and allowing that to shine. These can also be used for rose wines.
Red wine glasses are larger and allow more air/wine surface contact, this allows the aromas to open out and for you to appreciate them before tasting the wine, it’s all about the anticipation. Whether you are a red or a white wine drinker, don’t be tempted to over fill your wine glass. About a third of a glass works for me, then if I subconsciously start to swirl the wine it won’t splash everywhere and the air contact will release scents. This will stop your white wine warming up too quickly and a decent stem also helps so you won’t be tempted to hold the bowl of the glass.
I’m also an advocate of decanting red wine. A phrase that is often used is ‘letting a wine breathe’ but simply pulling a cork on a bottle of red an hour or two before serving really doesn’t have any effect as there is little air contact. By decanting, you wake the wine up. Even if you do this shortly before you drink the wine, it will have some effect. As wines age, they sometimes start to throw a sediment, it’s all perfectly natural but you don’t necessarily want it at the bottom of your wine glass, so decanting will leave this behind. If you plan to decant a wine, stand it upright a while before hand to allow sediment to slide to the bottom of the bottle. Once you start to decant, keep a steady hand and don’t jiggle the bottle. If you put a light under the underside to the bottle, it’s easier to see the sediment collecting and you will know when to stop.
Then sit back, relax and enjoy.
‘Carol Brown is an Aberdeen based member of the Association of Wine Educators and the Circle of Wine Writers. She runs a range of Wine and Spirit Education Trust and Wine Education Service courses and the Aberdeen Wine Appreciators tasting group and organises Corporate Wine Entertainment Events, wine dinners and tastings.’
Carol Brown DipWSET
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