Testing Your Glasses

Of course, you can always taste wine at home.  We do so every day, with our dinner.  But that’s not the same thing as a wine tasting.  A true wine tasting requires more than glasses and bottles.  It requires attention to the aromas and tastes that emanate from your glass, to the way the glass affects your senses, to the color and viscosity of the liquid and, most of all, to the pleasure one wine gives as differentiated from another.

So since you won’t be in a winery’s tasting room in the immediate future, here’s an idea for having a wine tasting experience in the comfort of your own home.  It will work at any time, and we have tried it out in the past.  It’s particularly fun in these difficult days.

Photo courtesy of Wine Cooler Direct.

  • Choose your glasses. If you’re like us, you probably have a lot of wine glasses.  Some are for everyday use, others for special occasions.  Maybe you have some for reds, others for whites and still others for Champagne.  And perhaps there a few of those little tasting glasses that you might use for dessert wines. For this experience, choose several of them.
  • Choose a wine you know you enjoy. This is no fun with plonk.  (Oh, that’s right, you don’t have any plonk in your cellar.)  No matter how fancy the glass, lousy wine is never going to taste good.  Now pour some of the chosen wine into each glass.
  • Experience the wines in each glass. This is the real effort you need to make.  Don’t just sniff and sip.  Think about what you’re doing and how the same wine differs from glass to glass.  Smell the wine in each glass before tasting any.  Really breathe them in.  Notice any differences?  Try to put those into words.  Now do the same after tasting each one.  Discuss with your significant other.  We have been surprised how much aroma we get from a tasting glass. This is because of the shape of the glass, which wraps around your nose while smelling the wine.
  • Decide which glass you prefer and use that glass for the rest of the bottle. You might be surprised and you might not agree.  That’s okay.  The whole reason for wine tasting is to suss out what you like and don’t like (or at least like less).  And it’s just fine if the two of you like different glasses.
  • You’ll get the maximum advantage of such a test if you can articulate why you prefer one glass over another. “It tastes better” doesn’t say much.  “I get an immediate impact right at the front of my tongue with this glass and the taste seems to linger longer.”  Now that’s saying something, and since everybody’s mouths and tastes are different, it’s not unusual to get different opinions.

Reidel is surely the world’s largest manufacturer of quality stemware (and some wares without stems).  We’re not sure how many different types of glasses they make.  We looked at their catalog and stopped counting when we realized that they make hundreds of different kinds.  No one, maybe not even the Reidel family, uses hundreds of glasses but if you do have several in your cabinet, it’s a lot of fun to test them with the same wine, one next to the others.


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