A glass is a glass, is a glass, right? Many of us, myself included, have wondered at some point in our drinking lives what the fuss is about. Is it possible for the shape, size and type of glass to really have a noticeable impact on your pour of ’06 Bordeaux? Can a simple vessel really affect your overall experience of a wine?
The short answer is yes, and let me tell you why. Unlike beer chugging, shot pounding, and cocktail slinging, wine drinking is an all-encompassing sensory experience. We actively observe the color, smell the fruit, taste the sweetness, and feel the effects of the fermentation. A proper wine glass enhances that sense of immersion by acting as a conduit, magnifying the brilliant hues, angling and releasing the bridled aromatics, and showcasing the tears of alcohol viscosity that streak down the curvature of the goblet.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to rush out and blow half the vacation budget on new glassware simply because you’re throwing a dinner party. There are many suitable options out there today that won’t break the bank and will showcase whatever wine it is that you’re popping open, be it an everyday drinker or that special occasion bottle you’ve been patiently waiting to uncork.
Incidentally, something that many of us overlook and is of just as much importance as the glasses themselves is the care of that stemware. I have been over to many a friends house and been served an impressive glass of wine only to have the bouquet and flavor overwhelmed by the presence of residual dish soap. It may sound surprising, but you do not need to use soap on your wine glasses, hot water will suffice. (Unless of course you have a guest that likes to wear sticky lip gloss in which case I would recommend presenting him/her with a straw. In case the humor is lost on them, than default to a drop of dish soap on the offending glass, but rinse VERY thoroughly) Soap gets caught in the microscopic lattice structure of the glassware and after multiple bubbly washings can become increasingly prominent. And while I know how tempting it is to toss those glasses in the dishwasher after a late night of imbibing, hit the “crystal” setting and be done with it, try to refrain. Even if you simply give a quick rinse and let those glasses sit until the morning before giving them a proper cleaning, they’ll be the better for it as the heat and abrasion of the wash cycle can lead to corrosion, resulting in a “cloudy” appearance of the glass or crystal eventually.
Dedicate a sponge just for your wine glasses and commit to not using it on other dishware. Bacteria, odors and even flavors can transfer to your stemware. The last thing you want is your next glass of ’07 Napa Cab tasting suspiciously like the kids tuna noodle casserole. (Fun fact: if you would like your husband to contribute to the chore of wine glass washing consider investing in one of those sponge on a handle marvels available at any domestic diva retail outlet such as Target, or say, the grocery store. That way when he tries to use the excuse that his hands are too big to clean inside the glass, you whip out the DishMatic and done. Game, set, match!)
Hand dry those lovelies immediately after washing with a good quality micro fiber cloth. (Be sure not to use detergent and/or fabric softener when washing the micro fiber cloth for reasons discernable by now if you’ve read any of this article) If you’ve invested any amount of hard earned dough into your glassware you’ll no doubt want them to look as lovely as that receipt says they are. Beads of water that sit on the glass lead to etching, and unsightly effect that makes it look like hard water deposits. Once the glass is etched it is permanent. While this doesn’t affect the flavor of the wine at all, survey says 10 out of 10 wine drinkers like sparkly over spotty glasses.
So with that said, go pour a glass of vino and put your new glass cleaning knowledge into action.
Cheers to happy glasses! Your wine and palate will thank you.