One wine glass for your Burgundy, another for your Chardonnay, a flute for your Champagne, and before you know it there’s no room left for the coffee cups. You’ve been told your whole life that different kinds of grapes require different glasses in order to reach their full flavour potential – but what if it’s been a lie all along?
According to sommeliers – and they’re the ones who ought to know – you really only need one wine glass. Can you guess which one it is?
Andre Mack, former head sommelier at Thomas Keller’s Per Se and founder of Mouton Noir Wines, says the one and only wine glass you’ll ever need is “a crystal-clear and thin glass that has a stem with a bowl that’s larger than the top of the glass.” It’s almost shockingly simple.
Master Sommelier Dustin Wilson echoes Mack’s sentiment and shared a few of his favourites with The Kitchn. At the top of the list is the Zalto Denk’Art Universal Glass, an elegant option that clocks in at US$59.00 per glass. If you’re on a budget, Crate & Barrel have a variety of affordable alternatives and IKEA’s Hederlig wine glass will set you back only US$1.99.
What’s more interesting is the story behind the stemware. We owe the glass bonanza to just one company, explains Mack: Riedel. The Austrian glassware manufacturer “really pioneered the theory that different shapes of glasses enhance the flavors in wine in the early ’90s,” he says. “[It] is still a front-runner in the industry, touting their glasses as ‘wine tools.'”
So is it all a scam? Have the wine-loving public had the grape leaves pulled over their eyes for two decades?
It turns out wine is a mix of science and hype. “Wines do show slightly differently out of different glasses,” Wilson concedes. “However, I believe this to be more of a marketing ploy than anything else. It drives people to think they need the ‘perfect’ glass in order to experience the wine in the best way possible, therefore pushing people to buy more glasses than they actually need.”
The bottom line? If you enjoy impressing guests with your vast cache of stemware and you have the space to store it, go for it. But don’t beat yourself up if you rinse out the same glass between a Chianti and a Riesling.