Musings, Reviews

Les Nourritures Terrestres : WHICH GLASS FOR WHICH WINE ?

Les Nourritures Terrestres


Les Nourritures Terrestres comes back to celebrate the Christmas period by shedding light on wine, champagne and other alcoholic beverages.

Contrary to the norm, this series will not start by explaining the existing differences between types of wines or the accords mets vins but rather by giving clear explanation on the wine culture and the best way to apprehend it.

Today’s article will therefore focus on a crucial but often forgotten element of any wine tasting: THE GLASS.

Often, when we open a bottle of wine, we tend to scramble for the only available clean glass without considering its shape or characteristics.
Still, the glass is crucial for the wine to deliver its whole palette of aromas; the taste of the alcohol  will change depending on the glass’ size, form and material.

Not surprisingly, the first recommendation is that Wine should always be served in a wine glass.
There are two main reasons behind such a recommendation:
1) First, it would prevent it to get warm (due to the hand contact)
2) Second, you will be able to fully admire its robe

Always remember that wine is not only made for drinking, but that it should also be smelled and admired. Important factors such as transparency, color, tears or ‘gras  (which translate to fat in French) should be looked at.

Here are the key characteristics of the wine glass:


A glass is composed of a foot, a stem, a bowl ( or calice ) and a rim.
Those were the only English terms I could find to describe a glass, still it is always interesting to see that in French, a glass anatomy is much more specific.
A note of information : 
We usually say that you should serve wine up to the epaule of the glass

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Generally a 35 ml glass is said to fit all the different types of wines.
Still, the reality is more complex.
One always has to take into consideration some key factors :
– The bigger the glass, the more aerated it tends to be.
– The glass is itself is divided in 3 parts
At the top gather the more floral and fruity aromas as they are both the finest but also the most volatile aromas.
In the middle of the glass, the aromas tend to be more vegetal and woody. The strong aromas stay in the bottom.
Thus, the size can actually impact on the wine taste. That is why, 
oenologues recommend smaller sizes for liquoreux and moelleux ( more sugary wines ) and larger for grand crus.
Similarly, bigger glasses tend to be better for strong red wines and smaller ones better for light white wine.


In order to understand this section, it is important to remember that our tongue is composed of different sections that will receive different type of taste.
 As a picture is worth a thousand words here is a tongue map so that you can better understand the following explanations.


Interestingly, the form of the glass will impact the angle of the head tilt. The first tongue sensors effect will have a direct effect on the wine appreciation. 
Largely opened / wide / bell shaped glass will force you to move your head down. The first captors reached will be the sugar sensors. This type of glass will be perfect for red wine for instance. 
At the contrary, with a more narrow down, the head will go up conveying the wine on the bitter captors. For champagne, that is the perfect fit!

In practice, the different types of wine glasses

Red Wine Glass

Different type of red wine glasses exist. We usually differentiate Lyre and Tulip shaped ones. The common and usual red wine glass is shaped like bigger and wider tulip glass.

Bourgogne Glass or Balloon Glass

Characteristics :
– a wide and large calice but a more narrow rim
– balloon glass : could look more like a cognac glass
– you have to serve wine up to 1/3 of the glass
Why ?

Bourgogne wine tends to be less dense dense, they thus requires less aeration. Pinot noir aromas would be magnified in that type of wine.

Bordeaux Glass :

-ovoid : to allow air to circulate.
-we generally serve wine up to 1/8 of the glass
Bordeaux glass are much more tannin-concentrated (which gives them a dyer taste). The form of the glass enables a more precise spilling of the wine as it would first reach the tip of the tongue, preventing the entire mouth from drying.
Tannin wines also necessitate longer aeration time to be fully appreciated.

White wine Glass

The glass tends to be smaller and narrower to protect the more delicate floral white wine aromas.
It also needs to be conical for the aromas to develop fully.
Still, variations can exist :
sugary and moelleux wines would develop fully in smaller glasses and dry ones in larger glasses.

Champagne Glass

The general belief is that champagne should be served in a flute or in a coupe rather than in a wine glass.

Please do not do that.
To quote  CEO, Krug,  ‘ If I want to experience the whole bouquet, I put my champagne in a wine glass, if it is crappy I just put it in a flute so that I will just taste the bubbles.’
One important thing to keep in mind is that the glass always impacts the bubbles formation.

This is a coupe.

As you may already have understood : The wider the rim, the more aerated the wine tends to be. Thus the bubbles would disappear Plus it is really not convenient and you may spill champagne all over,

This is a flute.
This type of glass is not the best choice either. Champagne is not solely about bubbles, it is a delicate wine and should be enjoyed as such. It involves a large array of savoir faire, traditions and necessitates a specific terroir. With a flute, you would certainly taste the effervescence more than the wine and would not get the full experience. It would certainly be fizzy, but not tasty or delicate

So the best Glass tends to be the Tulip shaped one.

Its form enables to enjoy both the fizziness and the wine quality. Also, it maintains and develops the bubbles while exalting the whole bouquet.

So now, when you open a bottle of wine, you will know which glass to choose to enjoy fully!