Does the Wine Glass make a difference?
On our Shiraz & Co full day wine tours in Adelaide the question about glassware and the effect on the wine tasting experience is sometimes raised by guests.
When the focus of our full day wine tours is learning about the finer influences of terroir and trying new producers or varieties, making sure that nothing hijacks the adventure is important.
Most Winery Cellar Doors we visit on our Shiraz & Co Tours, particularly boutique producers closer to Adelaide, all have sensibly invested in the standard ISO Wine Tasting Glass. That said, a select number have chosen to invest in higher quality glassware.
That raises the question- Is it necessary to consider this on the day, and if so, under what circumstances.
The Standard ISO Wine Tasting Glass
The ISO (iso is “equal” in Greek, hence the ISO Standard) Wine Tasting Glass has to be the most practical product for this purpose ever invented. The fact that it is a standard is the key.
When most wineries use it, you can be assured the effect the glass may have on your perception of aromas and taste and colour will be uniform, from cellar door to cellar door.
The shape is an elongated egg, flat stable base, stem long and easy to hold. Quality is good, clear glass so that wine colours are not obscured with the bowl size ratio to opening correct. This allows the aromas to rise up and concentrate where they should for that all important sniff test. The aim is not to let too many of those important ‘lively’ aromas slip past you.
There are slightly different ratios recognised as ideal for red and white wines, but for a standard cellar door tasting the standard is exceptionally good quality and appropriate.
Quality, Glass and Crystal
Comments I receive on our full day wine tours and tastings also relate to the thickness of the glass, especially the weight and the feel of them. These are all perceived measures of quality.
To be fair, in the cellar door environment durability and cost are clearly a sensible consideration.
Glasses often get machine washed dozens of times a day, some are accidentally broken and maybe not so, go lost. The standard ISO glass is perfect for these environments.
For premium or private tastings where exclusive hand crafted, low volume, aged or museum wines are being poured, the delicate mineral or crystal glasses are more appropriate and appreciated. These add the appropriate level of prestige and authenticity to the product and keeps the components of the experience connected.
The mineral content; lead, magnesium, zinc typically, makes the material stronger and able to be spun much thinner, giving it a strong rim.
Many of these are not only expensive but also quite impractical to use for general multiple tastings. Stems are sometimes too short, and given the small 30ml volumes involved in tastings, much too large to be practicable.
Effects on Tasting Perception
The introduction of varietal specific glassware has added to the debate and allowed and encouraged us to vary the glassware to better match the style or type of wine. When discussing this with tour guests I liken the debate to coffee and tea drinking; cup or a mug or the fine bone china from Grandma’s cupboard.
In 2015 Tokyo Scientists developed a test that shows alcohol distribution at the rim of a glass and different shapes produced different results. Since alcohol has such a hand in aroma and finish perception, this was notable. But alcohol levels vary amongst wines and given temperature has a significant effect on this also, means that perceptions are affected by many variables.
At blind tastings, there are clearly perceived differences when glasses are substituted. The impression of the wine may vary, but since for better or worse is subjective, I believe the ISO Wine Tasting Glass has the important bases covered.
I hope that this short summary of the role and impact of glassware when on wine tours and tastings has added some insight.
Full Day Wine Tours
If you would like to experience this yourself on one of our gourmet food and fine full day wine tours and put some of this glass theory to the test, we would love to hear from you.
The Shiraz&Co Team