What's Better Than One Glass of Wine?
Four, of course
Did you have the McDonald’s character glasses around your house growing up? We sure did. And of course you had to collect the whole set. Too bad the folks got rid of ours during one of our house moves over the years. Ma & Pa Wiz could be making a killing on eBay right now. But one’s palate eventually matures and broadens, and a glass bearing the likeness of Mayor McCheese maybe isn’t the best for serving your cab sauv.
We like to ask the tough questions here around Wiz Manor. And this week, I want to investigate: how much of a difference does the shape of your wine glass make?
Riedel, the Austrian wine glass maker, makes literally dozens and dozens of different glasses, many of them varietal-specific and designed to showcase the wine’s unique taste and aroma. But are the differences that discernible?
I chose a bottle of 2018 Baldacci Family Vineyards Sorelle Chardonnay, a recent arrival from the WineFolly club. This vintage hails from Carneros in California, outside the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. I poured roughly the same amount into each of four glasses, as my colleague in the background can attest. (He’s only 2, he isn’t old enough to drink.)
I started my tasting with my Riedel Chardonnay glass bought as part of a tasting set a while back. I get creamy and ripe banana on the nose, and citrus on the palate, with a long slightly buttery finish that spreads nicely across the back of my throat.
Moving on to the big “everyday” glass, the creaminess and fruitiness disappear from the nose. The taller slimmer profile seemed to concentrate the flavors, but not in a good way. It gets a little out of whack, and the finish has more bite.
Next, I used the smaller round glass, which I believe was a Target acquisition. While the shape is similar, it’s a little heavy and clunky. The aroma is weirdly vacant, and again that nice long finish is cut short and acidic.
Finally I wound up with the smaller and slightly elongated glass. The nose is a bit more oaky. The citrus is back, but again, no long finish.
I poured the remainders back into the Riedel, and yup, the flavors smoothed out more, and the finish improved. The wine had warmed up some by this point, so I recommend taking care to keep it properly chilled to enjoy it at its best.
Well, shoot. Looks like Riedel has a point. Does that mean you need to throw all your glassware out and spend a mint on new ones?
Not really. I always say know your audience, and if you’re drinking a young wine with a weekday dinner or while sitting around with friends, a nice size glass that gives you enough room to give it a good swirl is all you need.
But if you’re a fan of a specific varietal — Napa Valley chardonnay, for example — and you’re already spending to get the best quality you can afford, you may as well pay a bit more to make sure you’re getting all the value and enjoyment from it. Bottles of wine get emptied, but you’ll have the glass for much longer.
And while I slightly prefer a more Old World style, this Baldacci is a fine example of Napa chard, not too buttery, just a hint of oak in the right proportions. Give it a good chill and enjoy it in whatever glass you have handy.
Off to the kitchen to wash all this glass (carefully!). Honestly, the lengths I go to for you people.
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