Guest post by Ned Goodwin MW. Ned is a Sydney based sommelier, educator, show judge, consultant, TV wine show host and wine writer.
It always seems unfair that smaller glasses are traditionally assigned to white wine, while red wines get all the love with more capacious shapes and sizes. Conversely, it makes sense that smaller glasses be used for sweeter wines or fortified styles given that we don't drink as much of them. Then there is the traditional Champagne flute or worse, the coupe. The latter was popular in the 1920's when 'champagne towers' were all the rage, as they still are today in China. While the flute retains and accentuates the fizz, neither serve the aromas or textures of a sparkling wine, Champagne or otherwise, particularly well. What about the tumbler? The less said about that the better!
The desire among wine-lovers to commune more closely with their wines has seen a revolution in wine glass design and with that, a litany of companies forging new approaches. No matter what you choose, remember to fill the glass no more than halfway in order to capture the bouquet. This way, too, you can swirl your glass from the stem, releasing the aromas as you sniff and sip.
Riedel is the king of wine glass design, with a glass to suit virtually every type of grape variety and wine style. There is, for example, an Australian Shiraz glass as opposed to a Syrah glass, although the grape varieties are identical. It makes sense, however, given the radical stylistic diversion. With Riedel's purchase of Spiegelau, a rivalrous Austrian manufacturer, the options across dishwasher-proof glasses to hand-blown crystal offerings are staggering.
There is also Zalto, a favourite among sommeliers. These glasses are extremely thin and elegant; gorgeous to behold.
The pragmatist's option may well be ISO glass. This was designed by a panel of professional wine tasters for educational purposes, in the 1970's. They do the trick, but are a little clunky and tend to emphasise faults in wine over pleasure.
Finally, there is a brilliant local manufacturer from Melbourne, Plumm. Plumm's attraction is the simplicity of design and the sturdiness of the glasses. After all, why sweat about the right glass when just a few options can cover all bases!