If you’re planning a party this summer at Lake Tahoe, the way you approach various things like decorations, appetizers and party favors will differ if you’re thinking of an indoor get-together versus one outside your mountain home.
However, there’s at least one thing you’ll want to plan on providing your guests that, if done the right way, won’t matter either way: wine.
These days, with Sonoma and Napa only a few hours away, the vino variations found throughout the Lake Tahoe Basin are truly endless. And whether you’re a fan of red or white, it’s important to know the best way to serve your guests all the wonderful variations.
While it’s true any wine glass will allow you to enjoy the drink regardless of its shape, the right glass will bring out the best aromas, flavors and textures.
All wine glasses are built with the specific goal of allowing the wine drinker to enjoy the special properties of a particular type of wine.
Today, almost all wine glasses have a stem of some length separating the base from the bowl. Stemless wineglasses are more of a modern aesthetic than a functional design.
The stem allows you to hold your wine glass without warming the wine with the heat of your hand and without creating smudges on the bowl which will distract from the visual brilliance and look of the wine.
With this in mind, Lake Tahoe Home magazine did a little digging in its archives, along with information from the folks at basic-wine-knowledge.com, to provide the following helpful guide to make sure you have the right tools for the right drink.
Wine Glass Shapes and Sizes
All good wine glasses will direct the wine to the part of your mouth where its flavor will be most enjoyed. The glasses’ shape helps capture and distribute wine’s aroma toward your mouth and nose.
In all types of wine glasses, the bowl must allow you to swirl the wine, aerating it so the aroma can be released. Swirling your wine is not just to show off, it really serves an important purpose.
Wine glass designs vary in size, precise shape, length and volume, but in general, these are the rules that decide their design:
A red wine glass bowl will be fuller and rounder with a larger opening to allow you to dip your nose into the glass and sniff the wine.
The complex aromas and flavors of red wine demand a glass with a larger area for the wine to contact more air. Red wines will usually grow smoother as they aerate; this is why a decanter is often used for red wines.
Several hours of decanting or an open bottle can soften a red wine for those who do not like the harsh spices and tannins, but it can also ruin a red wine for those who like them fresh.
For red wine, you may want both a Bordeaux and a Burgundy glass. A Bordeaux glass is taller but the bowl is not as large. It is designed for full bodied, heavier red wines such as Cabernets and Merlots.
The tallness of the glass allows the wine to proceed directly to the back of the mouth to maximize its flavor. A Burgundy glass is for lighter, full bodied wines such as Pinot Noir.
It is not as tall, but the bowl is larger than the Bordeaux glass, directing the wine to the tip of the tongue to taste its more delicate flavors.
A white wine glass bowl will be more U-shaped, allowing the aromas to be released while also maintaining a cooler temperature.
For white wine, you may also want two types of wine glasses, one for younger, crisp whites and one for more mature, fuller whites. A fruity white wine glass is for younger whites and has a slightly larger opening directing the wine to the tip and sides of the tongue to taste its sweetness.
The regular white wine glass for more mature whites will be straighter and taller to throw the wine to the back and sides of the tongue to taste its bolder, often more tart flavors.
Rose or blush wines often come in various types of glasses depending on the method used to create them. Rose wine is usually a lightly crushed red grape such as Zinfandel or can also be a mixture of red and white, though this is highly frowned upon in the industry.
Another method of extracting the “pink” from a red wine is used to create a blush while intensifying the original red wine.
A sparkling wine glass (or flute) will be upright and more narrow to retain the carbonation and capture the flavor in the beverage. Sparkling wine, or champagne, glasses are also used specifically to show off bubbles.
A dessert wine glass should be smaller to direct the wine to the back of the mouth so the sweetness doesn’t overwhelm.
Dessert wines generally have a higher alcohol content, making the small glass perfect for a smaller serving. The shape will often very for ports, sherries and the larger sauternes glasses.
An all-purpose glass is a cross between a white wine glass and bordeaux glass but will tend to be larger. This is the best option for someone who just wants one set of glasses for reds, whites and roses.
The best and most practical wine glass will be made with crystal or thin glass. As mentioned, designs vary so pick what suits your fancy and what you think you’ll actually use. And don’t forget those great wine charms for your next get-together.