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by Allison Boyer
Wine is a beverage that is best enjoyed when tasted with a specific glass. The types of wine glasses you choose can change the flavor characteristics of the wine, making it more or less desirable, depending on the circumstances. When serving wine with meals, using the right wine glasses will ensure that you and your guests experience the flavor as it is meant to be tasted.
Red wine glasses: Red wine glasses have a sort of fish-bowl shape. Depending on the specific glass, the rim of the glass may taper significantly to form a tulip shape or it might be less tapered. Very robust, dark red wines, such as Merlot and Bordeaux, should be served out of larger glasses with a less tapered rim. The shape of the Bordeaux glass will allow you to swirl the wine, releasing the aromas and directing them to your nose as you drink. Use glasses with more of a taper for red wines like Pinot Noir, Syrah and Burgundy. Burgundy glasses are slightly shorter but will have a bigger bowl than a Bordeaux glass.
White wine glasses: Unlike red wines, most white wines don't need to breathe as much for the flavor to be fully appreciated. White wine glasses are big enough so that when you pour the wine, it doesn't fill the glass more than two-thirds of the way. Almost all white wines are also served chilled, so a smaller glass is better. The smaller glass size means that the wine will stay cooler longer, as is the case with champagne flutes.
Champagne flutes: Even if you don't drink wine often, you're likely familiar with the champagne flute. Flutes are used with champagne for two reasons. First, they have a long stem for holding the glass to prevent the heat from your hand from warming the champagne in the flute; and second, the elongated shape of the glass preserves the bubbles for a longer period of time.
Dessert wine glasses: Sweet wines are served with dessert or after dinner in most cases. Dessert wines are meant to be consumed in smaller quantities, so they need smaller glasses. Too much dessert wine can be overwhelming. It's also important to note that dessert wines have higher alcohol content than other wines.
Brandy snifter: Brandy snifters have a very short stem because with brandy, a derivative of wine, you actually want the heat to transfer from your hand to the liquid. Even though brandy is consumed in much smaller amounts than wine, you need a vessel as large as a red wine glass for drinking it. Brandy needs a lot of space to breathe in order to be enjoyed properly.