For years, wine glass designers have, through much research and experimentation, come out with different wine glasses. Essentially, wine glasses are designed to bring out the best of the wine, the aroma, taste and mouth feel.
A wine glass or stemware is made up of 3 parts, namely the bowl at the top, the stem in the middle, and the foot at the bottom. The bowl, obviously, is used to contain the wine, while the stem is for holding the glassware, and the foot is to rest it down.
The bowl would determine the aroma and mouth feel of the wine, while the sturdiness and height of the stem, together with the diameter of the foot, keep the glassware from toppling over.
The Champagne Flute
The Champagne Flute has a long and narrow bowl, and smaller rim, though some having a wider rim than the other. Because champagne or sparkling wine does not need swirling and in fact, needs to keep its bubbles or pearls, there should be minimal contact with oxygen at the rim area. It is also important for sparkling wine to keep its temperature down for as long as possible. Hence the flute is designed with narrow and long body for this function.
As for some having a wider rim where it allows for more air contact, a young sparkling wine could then have more exposure to develop its aroma.
The Bordeaux Glass for Red Wine
A typical size of the Bordeaux glass for red wine has about a bowl diameter of 3.75″ and height 9″. Designed for full bodied and very matured wines where sometimes decanting is not advisable, the big bowl allows for fuller and instant oxygenation. The big bowl also provides lots of space for the aroma to be captivated, and at the same time also lots of swirling room.
The thin rim decides the flow of wine to either the top or below the front zone of the tongue, allowing nutty, fruity, or spicy flavors to dominate, before the feel of tannins are directed towards the back of the tongue.
Notwithstanding its original design intention, there is no reason why it should not be used for wines that are less matured, and where one enjoys more aggressive swirling.
With height almost similar to that of Bordeaux, the Burgundy has a larger bowl diameter, about an inch more at 4.24″. This is to provide the flow angle due to its wider rim.
The wide rim directs the flow right over the front and center zones of the tongue, playing down acidity and accentuating the rounder, mellower qualities of the wine.
The All Purpose Red
More like a scaled down version of the Bordeaux, it is designed for consumption of younger red wines with higher astringent. The shorter and smaller bowl requires less tilting angle and thus allowing a controlled flow of wine with less stimulation on areas of the tongue that is sensitive to tannins.
A practical reason for choosing All Purpose Red is that it occupies lesser table space than the bigger Bordeaux and Burgundy. Hence it suits round table heavy dining, where table space is a restriction.
The Whites Generally white wines are best served at between 8 and 11 degrees Celsius. Therefore the glasses are made smaller to allow for more frequent refilling. A younger crisp wine usually will have a glass with rim designed open outwards for the enjoyment of casual drinking. Wines with greater maturity and complexity will have the glass with rim inward to capture the fragrance and the aroma.
As the designs of wine glasses continue to evolve, the general characteristics of wine glasses will still vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Ultimately, the experience of the wine in the mouth is still personal.