This post was most recently updated on February 11th, 2022
Have you ever discovered a fabulous new wine during a tasting event, then find it tastes different when you uncork the same type of wine at home? Or buy wine online from your favourite curated collection, bring it to a friend’s house as a hostess gift, and realize the flavour is not quite the same? How can two bottles of wine from the same barrel taste different in two different places? Or stranger still, two glasses from the same bottle? Is it geography? Temperature? The energy in the room?
The real reason could be crystal-clear.
When you buy wine online and find that it has a different flavour from the first time you tried it, look no further than the type of glass you’re using. Size, shape, materials, thickness, and other factors can all effect the way your favourite wines taste. To help keep the flavour consistent and enjoy a delicious wine every time, here are some points to consider:
If you’ve ever wondered why red wines are traditionally served in glasses with big, wide bowls, it’s because these larger bowls contribute to aeration. This is the process of “opening up” the wine to allow the aromas to circulate and the tannins to soften. After all, without the sense of smell, there is virtually no sense of taste, so this makes perfect sense particularly with gorgeous, aromatic reds. On the flipside, whites, Rosés, and sparkling wines are typically served in glasses with narrow bowls, such as flutes, to keep the wine colder for a longer period of time.
Considering how the shape of the glass affects flavour is a lesson in geometry with a bit of physics tossed in the mix. The shapes of different wine glasses change the flow of the wine and how it hits the tongue. A glass with a narrower opening can send wine in a linear fashion to the back of the palate. A wider bowl delivers the wine in a cascade over the tongue. Further, there are several components in wine that are felt, rather than tasted. Acid, tannins, alcohol are all sensations, and different shapes of glasses will deliver these elements in unique ways. Next time you order wine online, try sampling it from different shaped glasses, and experience these sensations for yourself.
Crystal vs Glass
Purists may argue that their favourite wines taste best when sipped from crystal, but the majority of wine drinkers probably wouldn’t notice the difference. Crystal became popular in the 17th century with the addition of lead oxide. Modern crystal no longer contains lead, of course, but it does differ from glass in that the walls of the bowl can be made thinner to enhance the mouthfeel of the wine, and the rim of the glass is virtually eliminated. Drinking wine from a crystal glass may look and feel like a superior experience, but likely does little to change the flavour of the wines.
Will your wine online change flavour when you change glasses? Visit Stocked Cellars and discover dozens of curated wines; so you can buy wine online and see how the flavour and experience can change with different types of glasses.
Have a stab at our wine palate quiz and see your wine recommendations. Uncover Your Palate profile