Through the wine glass…and other tales of wine tasting

There is often a lot of discussion controversy about the use of specific wine glasses in wine tasting; does a wine glass make a difference in how a wine tastes?  Does size really matter?  Or in this case, does SHAPE matter more?  Personally, I think that size and shape are critical for discovering the nuances in some of the finer wines, and particularly good Pinot.  Different shaped glasses aim the wine at different points in your mouth, therefore highlighting flavors more strongly than others.  All this with the shape of a glass.

But what do you do when you don’t want to have 17 individual wine glasses?  Is there really ONE glass that you can use for ALL red wine?  Or all white wine?  Not that I drink that much white wine these days… Personally, I have many all purpose wine glasses, but I still ensure that all of my Pinot Noir is served from Pinot specific glasses because I want to make sure that the subtleties of the wine are captured when I take a sip. I have often been in the situation where all wines are served in hotel type glassware, or “occasion” glassware – the kind you get at a wine festival for example, and not enjoying the wines I was recently at a bar having a glass of Pinot that was served in a small Chianti type glass, and it just left something wanting.  I know the wine was better than that.  Enter a different wine glass, and the expereince can dramatically change.  So, fo rthat purpose, I have many generic, mostly Bordeaux shaped glasses that I use for every day, a few different shapes of Pinot glasses, and a lot of event glasses that I avoid except for parties.

Andrea Robinson, wine expert and master sommelier, has developed a new wine glass called “The One” that promises to be the only wine glass you need.  There is one for red wine, and one for white one, and the red glass closely resembles some of the lesser known Pinot glasses I have seen.  To determine if I would be able to use just ONE glass for all of my red wine needed, I selected two control wines:

A Pinot Noir, because that is what I drink most of right now.  A Syrah, because that is the thing I drink when I’m not drinking Pinot Noir or Rose.

To control the taste test, I chose a Pinot Noir that I knew I liked.  I did that because I didn’t want to run the risk of opening a sample or a wine I wasn’t familiar with.  I also selected a Riedel Pinot Noir glass, the large classic Burgundy balloon, and a generic Pinot Glass that I got at Pinot Days last year.

I sipped.  I sniffed.  I tasted.  I sipped some more.

First:  The Riedel, my go to Pinot Glass, actually accentuated to omuch of the bitter spiecde and wood characteristics of the wine.  I was a bit mifed at this since I knew I loved this wine.

Next, I tried the generic Pinot Days glass.  mmmm there was my old friend, the rich spicy juicy raspberry Pinot.  That was more like it.

Finally, I tasted the wine out of Andrea’s glass.  Ok it was good, but the cherry berry cola accents were too strong for my taste.

Ok, let’s let the wine sit for bit.

Same thing.  So, score one for generic, zero for Andrea.

Next, my sample set was a syrah.  Again, a wine I know and love.  This time I selected a generic event glass, with the basic Bordeaux shape, but smaller.  I also selected a Cost Plus Connessieur stem, which is made by Spiegulau, which is now owned by Reidel.  Pretty much the same line up as the Pinot Noir blind sample.

For this wine, The One faired just as well as a generic tasting glass.  The wine was lovely, and the nuances of flavor were showing through.

One thing that I really love about these glasses, all shapes and sizes being said, is that they are tough.  I am really hard on my glasses.  I knock them over (frequently).  I bang them in my sink.  I crash them against

dishes.  The One did NOT break!  For that reason alone, I would buy some for general use.  At $50 for a set of 4, they are reasonable, especially if they last through a party or bashing them around.

The verdict:  If you are a Pinot Noir snob, I’d make sureyou have a couple of specialty glasses on hand for that purpose.  I am picky about my Pinot Noir glasses, and I do believe that different shapes impact how you percieve the flavor of a wine, particularly if you have  a developed palate.  the reason this happens is that different shapes target the wine on different centers of taste buds in your mouth.  There is a lot of controversy abuot these tounge maps, but I find that for me – it’s true.

If you’d like to try The One by Andrea Robinson for yourself, I have a set to give away, 1 white, 1 red.  Just leave a comment and tell me why you need a new wine glass!  I’d love it if you wrote about your opinion as well, but that’s not required.

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9 Responses to “Through the wine glass…and other tales of wine tasting”

  1. Randy Says:

    I love that you put a drawing of a tongue map on the post,

    I am not a huge fan of owning wine glasses for specific wine types. I’ve found that other factors tend to be more important for the proper enjoyment of wine (e.g. who you’re with, what you’re eating, where you happen to be, and so on), at least for my uncomplicated palate.

    However, one thing in your post rings true: if you know you love a particular wine grape or wine style, then buying specialized wine glasses for that wine type will most likely enhance your appreciation of that which you already love. Understand though that other wine styles, wine grapes, and even some beers will taste just fine in those glasses too.

  2. winebratsf Says:

    Randy – exactly, and thanks for reinforcing my point 😉
    for MOST wines and MOST palates, a generic glass such as The One, is just great and helpful, so you don’t clutter your cabinets.

    I do find it fascinating to do the taste test however – and I’ve often tried a wine I didn’t enjoy in a different glass, to discover that I now enjoy the wine. It certainly varies person to person, but having a few various glasses can just make your wine life more interesting.

    For my mother, who spends $10 on a bottle, a single wine glass is fine.
    For me, who averages $25, it makes more sense to have a specialized wine glass – at least for my most consumed varietal!!!

    🙂

  3. winebratsf Says:

    Oh and yeah. I use my bordeaux generics for sangria, beer, water, and other various things. Especially at the office. heh

  4. Mary Cressler Says:

    I most definitely need new wine glasses. One, because I break an average a glass a week while just doing dishes. Perhaps not as often these days since I’m not drinking as much, but still, I am clumsy and they brake (but they are worth it!). Two, come January I need to make up for lost time (9 months of no drinking), and I anticipate needing lots of new glasses to assist in the cause. Three, I am moving and I will bet the farm that the moving company will brake all the remaining glasses I have during the move from OR to CT. Between having to move to CT, and carrying two babies in my belly for 9 months, I think I deserve a reward for my hard work and love of wine 🙂

    ps, I am a wholehearted believer in having a good set of wine glasses. Although I believe you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a collection, good glasses make a huge difference and are a must have for anyone who drinks wine.

  5. Tweets that mention Through the wine glass…and other tales of wine tasting « Luscious Lushes -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mary Cressler, melanie0 and Wine Lover, Luscious Lushes. Luscious Lushes said: a glass for this a glass for that…checking out @andreainwine's new glassware http://bit.ly/95AAxg […]

  6. Josh Wade Says:

    Thea,

    The idea of “the one” intrigues me because I’m not a fan of sifting through 10 different glasses to find the right one “marketed” for the job. For 99.9% of people out there a single properly shaped bowl glass will do the trick for reds and a more narrow bowl for whites (to direct the traffic) will be fine. I could see “The One” being a great marketing hit but will struggle against the giant Riedel machine.

    I agree with Randy that if you have a go to wine type that you love…and having that specialized glass enhances your experience…GO FOR IT. It’s your wine and it’s your money.

    Cheers!

    Josh
    drinknectar

  7. winebratsf Says:

    Yep! I think it will do well against the Riedel O series, and the lower level brands. The price point and durability are great selling points – as are the elegant design.

    I agree that for MOST people, a single glass for white and a single glass for red is just fine! Most of the reason why I have so many different glasses is due to the fact I attend so many events – every one gives away glasses, plus my standard glasses, plus my only specialty glass for Pinot.

    I think that as regular wine drinkers discover more, they will see teh benefit in a few glasses, even if it’s just Bordeaux & Burgundy; I’ve done a blind test with a few average Joe wine drinkers and even they can see the differences.

    So:
    Start with 1 white, 1 red
    move up to 1 white, Bordeaux and Burgundy
    if you are inclined, move up more to specialty glasses.

    that said, I don’t have Riedels – I have cheap Cost Plus (made by Spiegelau) Connoisseur series. GREAT glasses, and only $5. I started with JUST Connoisseur Bordeaux glasses – and that was what I had for a very long time. Then I discovered Pinot, and the rest is history.

  8. winebratsf Says:

    Oh thank god it’s not just ME breaking them every time I do dishes! I’m throwing your name in the ring to try these glasses out, because you’ll need some durable stemware with the double trouble twins!

  9. Catie Says:

    Thea, Sorry to say that Pinot Noir was never a wine I was drawn to. A few years ago, I did a flight of Pinot at a wine store in Portland, OR. They gave us the shittiest little glasses with thick rims to drink the wine from. They were more like cheap-o apertif glasses. The glasses of course, didn’t do much for the wines. Later, some of the wines I had tasted in this flight we went to visit the wineries where they came from. Many of the wineries had the Riedel Pinot Noir glasses made especially for the Willamette Valley. I was sold on the concept of the glasses and in fact, it made me enjoy these wines. That’s all I wanted to say – over and out.

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