Glasses for Wine and Other Drinks
Although there are many different types, the ideal glass is simply one that shows off its contents for the maximum enjoyment of the drinker. For all wines and for most spirits this means that this is: a glass that is clear and colourless, so that the colour of the drink may be appreciated; a glass that stands on a stem, so that the temperature of the hand need not heat up a chilled wine in the bowl of the glass; a glass of reasonable size — the smell of the contents cannot be enjoyed if the glass is filled by more than two-thirds, and ideally it should only be half filled; a glass the sides of which either go straight up, or else curve slightly outwards and then inwards, so that the bouquet of the contents is not thrown out when the wine is moved round in the glass.
Either the elongated tulip shape, or the squatter onion shape (Paris goblet) are ideal for all still and sparkling wines and also for the fortified wines. A very thin glass, or one made of crystal, is ideal for the service of fine drinks, but it is better to have a cheap glass of the right shape and size than something expensive that is otherwise all wrong for the display of the drink. A 10 oz (280 ml) glass is virtually all-purpose for all table and sparkling wines. An 8 oz (225 ml) size is also acceptable, or a 6 oz (170 ml) for aperitif wines. Anything smaller is not only a mean measure but, half or two-thirds filled, looks insignificant.
For brandy: glasses should always be of sufficient size to show off the fragrance of the spirit, but not too big to be cupped in the palm of one hand – two hands for a woman. They should always have incurving rims, although some excellent glasses have an upright section up to the rim, after the inward curve of the glass from the bulbous bowl.
For digestives, schnapps, vodka:
as these drinks are meant to be swallowed without the appreciation of their bouquet, they can be served in small glasses, of any shape, filled to the brim. Pick-me-ups can also be served in such glasses.
For fruit brandies, alcools blancs and similar drinks:
the glass should be of sufficient size to enable the liquid to be swirled around – and to hold the ice cubes that chill the glass in preparation.
if the tulip or goblet is not used, then the traditional Spanish copita, an elongated tulip on a short stem, is ideal. Its stem is usually slightly shorter than that of an ordinary wine glass.
it is essential that the glass is not too small, especially for vintage port. A 5-1/2 oz (155 ml) is the smallest acceptable and a larger size is often better. Traditionally, the Paris goblet is the basic shape, but any glass with an incurving rim is acceptable.
For sparkling wines, including Champagne:
in addition to the ideal glasses cited above, a very elongated tulip may be used or, as is sometimes seen in France, the tall narrow flute glass may be used (this glass allows less ‘spread’ of the wine, which takes longer to go flat). Otherwise there is the very old type of glass, a deep saucer with a hollow stem. These are seldom seen except as antiques as they are very difficult to keep clean: but because they only expose the wine to a little air and a lot of glass surface, they prolong the time during which the bubbles rise. The shallow Champagne ‘saucer’ is a glass with nothing to recommend it: it gives a mean measure, it flattens the wine quickly and it overturns easily. If a saucer-shaped glass must be used, then it should be a deepish saucer.
Although this can be beautiful as glass and look elegant on the table, the use of cutting on the bowl of a glass inevitably requires that the glass should be thick. Therefore the supreme enjoyment of wine, experienced by the skin-thinness of uncut crystal in the hand, is denied the drinker. It must be admitted that crystal is not an economic proposition for anyone who does not, personally, wash up by hand! But heavy cutting is best left to be bestowed on the feet or stems of glasses and for decanters, as far as the service of very fine wines is concerned.
Many wine regions have specially shaped glasses. Although these are interesting and often beautiful, it is not necessary to use any other than the glasses recommended for the service of any wine.