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The sipp guide to glassware

Sep 11 2019

Welcome back to sipp’s Beyond The Bottle, helping you get more from your wine. This time we’re looking at different types of wine glasses. A good quality glass makes a big difference to your wine enjoyment, read on to find out why.

Make Your Wine Shine…

What makes a good wine glass (other than ‘a full one’)? When it comes to size and shape, we think there are some general design conventions that make tasting and drinking your wine, well, better:  

The rim – the better quality the glass, the thinner and more elegantly cut the rim will be, making the 'delivery' of the wine into your mouth a more pleasant and precise experience. Sounds weird? Try a few different glasses and you'll know what we mean.

The bowl – a good wine glass will have a tulip-shaped bowl that tapers towards the rim. This captures the wine’s aromas better when you give it a swirl, helping you to appreciate its full bouquet when you give it a sniff.

The stem – a long thin stem lets you hold and swirl your glass without transferring heat to the wine, which is important for chilled whites. The stem also ensures that your glasses regularly break and keeps you busy buying more!

The base – not the most exciting part, but you’d miss it if it wasn’t there (unless you like holding your wine glass all evening). Stemmed wine glasses will always be top-heavy though, so sooner or later you're going to knock one over.

The Three Main Types of Wine Glass

If you're serious about your wine (and you've signed up to sipp, so you must be!), it's worth investing in some decent glassware. But what to get? If you can afford it, our top tip would be to get a decent red wine, white wine and sparkling wine glass. This trio will see you through pretty much all wine-related scenarios.

Look for ‘crystal’ glasses. No, not those ornate crystal-cut glasses, it's a type of glass that's stronger and can be cut thinner, so giving a more elegant feel. Crystal glasses are nicer to drink from and usually easier to look after. You can find some really good elegantly cut crystal glass these days at reasonable prices. Try somewhere like TK Maxx or Home Sense for some serious bargains.

Red wine  For a good red wine glass look for one with a moderately wide bowl. Avoid those ENORMOUS glasses that can hold a whole bottle of wine (seriously, they won't fit in your cupboard anyway). Red wines with body tend to have more viscosity, so the extra space inside a larger-bowled red wine glass lets the wine really open and show off its complex aromas.

White wine – A good white wine glass should be elegant, medium-sized, fairly lightweight and of the best quality glass that you can afford. It's a balancing act between capturing all the lovely fresh aromas in the bowl and having a longish shape that 'delivers' the wine elegantly into the middle of your mouth.

Sparkling wine – If you want an old-fashioned champagne coupe, we're not going to dissuade you (they are cool), but we wouldn't recommendation them. They lack a tapered bowl so don't capture the wine's aromas (and champagne has some serious aromas!). The best sparkling wine glass is a flute – long and tall to emphasise the bubbles AND aromas, while keeping the wine cool as you sipp.

Glasses to avoid – Coloured, ornamentally detailed and metal wine glasses don’t let your see your wine clearly, so obscuring key visual information colour, density and texture/viscosity. Try to avoid glasses that are too open, too small or too rounded (or all three!), as you won’t be able to swirl and enjoy your wine’s aromas. If the glass is too fishbowl-like, the wine won’t hit the middle of tongue and you'll sort of sip it like a cup of tea, which is just weird.

How To Look After Your Fancy New Glassware

There are some misconceptions about washing wine glasses. Some people say you shouldn’t even use washing-up liquid, but we think that’s crazy talk. One thing we’re sure of at sipp is that wine is much better from a pristine glass!

The best way to wash a wine glass is to rinse it in warm water and use a wet, sudsy sponge to gently clean it inside and out. 
Pay attention to the rim – where lip balm and lipstick cling – and inside the bowl, especially the bottom where the wine dregs will have evaporated.

Once the glass is squeaky-clean, rinse it well with plenty of hot water, then let it drip dry for around 5 mins. While it's still warm and little damp, use a clean tea towel and polish the glass dry to it's sparkling. Like this:

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