You can’t put a price on hedonism, but you can bottle it. However, limited as most are by their 9-5, we only get to express our Babylonian side once or twice a week.
Which means you really ought to make the most of it.
Before you mind or stomach goes to the gutter — we aren’t talking about getting twisted on the way home from the wine store (and then watching re-runs of the bachelor). We’re talking about maximising taste (both in terms of class and sensory perception).
However, while most amateur wine experts know minutiae-specific info about the red stuff they drink, including background, region, cellaring, vintage and even decanting, there is one mistake most of us consistently make — after going out and buying a sublime bottle of Shiraz, we’ll go and serve it in whatever glasses we have in the cupboard.
Why are we willing to spend $80 a week on wine, and yet we rarely — if ever — invest in renewing, replenishing — or even considering — the glassware we drink it from?
Well, for starters, it’s counter-intuitive. Glass is glass is glass, right? Wrong. And we have St Hugo’s chief winemaker, Peter Munro, to explain why the vessel it is carried in affects both the taste and the smell of your wine, to the point where it is “on par with decanting” in terms of how much it affects your wine’s taste.
“Obviously they are acting in different ways but I am continually surprised on the impact of the right glassware and it’s design on highlighting varietal characteristics.”
In a recent interview, Peter told us, “Grape varietals carry unmistakeable flavour profiles, and the size and the shape of your glass will impact how you perceive them.” Which means, “For a wine lover, investing in good quality, functional wine glasses will never be a waste of money.”
So, what glasses go with what types of wine? Look no further.
Full-Bodied Red Wine
These bad boys should be served in a full, round, tall ‘Bordeaux’ glass with a wide opening at the top all of which directs wine to the back of the mouth and allows the bitter flavours of full-bodied reds like Cab Savs and Syrahs to shine.
Delicate Red Wine
For more delicate reds (Pinot Noir, for instance) you should use a ‘Burgundy’ glass, which has a bigger bowl but is not as tall as a ‘Bordeaux’ glass, to help you pick up on their more subtle aromas (and to direct the wine to the tip of the tongue).
White wines do not need as large a glass as reds to release their aroma and flavour, which means they are suited to glasses with a more U-shaped, upright bowls (something which also helps keep them cooler).
Rosé is produced similarly to white wine so you can get away with using the same glasses for them both. However, if you are a keen connoisseur there are glasses made specifically for rosés, whose shorter, tapered bowls and flared rims are supposed to better allow the fruity characteristics of a good rosé to shine.
Oh, and as a #bonus piece of advice, we asked Peter, “Is it still worth cellaring your wine if it has been exposed to heat before you get a chance to store it away?” (yes we committed this cardinal sin). While we were half hoping he would tell us to drink it straight away, that’s not quite how he responded…
“Wine that has been severely heat effected will always show premature development and is probably not best suited to long term aging. However great wine is extremely resilient and mild heat exposure may not have a noticeable effect on the wine and it’s aging ability.”
While this guide should serve you as a decent template, if you are interested in learning more; we highly recommend you check out some of the dynamic wine glassware (and tasting) tours on offer next time you are in one of Australia’s big wine-producing regions.