Delicious Wine Doesn’t Need Fancy Glasses

Fall. Crash! Shudder. Cringe.
This was the sequence of events that happened to me last
Tuesday. I had gone to a Gilroy Rotary Club barbecue early in the
Fall. Crash! Shudder. Cringe.

This was the sequence of events that happened to me last Tuesday. I had gone to a Gilroy Rotary Club barbecue early in the evening. After it was over, I graciously invited myself over to my friend Ricardo’s house. I am sure I did Ricardo a favor by inviting eight other Rotarians with me. Ricardo, along with his lovely wife Sara, was hardly in a position to say no, so they opened up their beautiful home to us free-loaders.

Our hosts quickly put together some snacks and started to take drink orders. The group unanimously decided we would love some wine, if they had any.

If they had any wine? Ricardo strolled over to his wine closet, opening the door to reveal a tasteful selection of around 200 bottles. He grabbed a couple of his favorites and allowed me to pick a couple to get the after-party started.

No sooner had the wine been poured into everyone’s glass, when the sequence I spoke of earlier occurred. Fall. Crash! Shudder. Cringe. My habit of talking with my hands sent my glass of cabernet sauvignon flying to the floor. Eerie silence usually occurs after something like this happens.

The thought running through most people’s mind: “Was the wine glass expensive?”

The thought running through my mind: “Why do they own white carpet? They have children, for gosh sakes!”

Just kidding! As I stooped to start cleaning up the mess, Sara assured me that she only brings out the crystal for good friends and family. (Only now am I realizing the well-timed insult that was delivered, but that is what I get for inviting myself in the first place!)

The accident did lead to a quick conversation about wine glasses. Many people feel compelled nowadays to buy expensive wine glasses, one for each style of wine imaginable.

The Riedel Company is best known for manufacturing and promoting the use of crystal wine glasses. Riedel has more than 30 glasses available, and I suspect more will be created in the near future.

While the art and form of Riedel’s stemware is of uncompromising quality, having the space and money to purchase even a few of these is out of reach for most. So, I thought I would suggest a few simple guidelines that most people can do to make serving, presenting and tasting wine an enjoyable experience:

n Most families can get by with an all-encompassing, utility wine glass. The glass should be tulip shaped (bulbous at the bottom and gradually getting narrower at the top). This allows for easy swirling of the wine, and helps to draw oxygen into the wine and release its bouquet. The opening of the wine glass should be generous. You want to sip and smell the wine with ease.

I personally like sinking my nose into the glass. It heightens the tasting experience if you smell the wine prior to drinking. This glass can and should be used for red and white wines alike.

Wine drinkers tend to constrict delicious chardonnays and sauvignon blancs to those really small, almost useless, wine glasses that hold no more than five ounces. Ditch those right away.

n Avoid putting wine into plastic cups, Styrofoam or any other receptacle that is not made of glass. These materials taint the flavor of the wine and often prevent us from enjoying the wine’s alluring color. Try to use a glass designated for wine if at all possible.

n Make sure your glasses are clean. Nothing shows off wine better to your friends and family than glasses that have no visible residue, spots or streaks. Avoid using the dishwasher. The heat is often too much for thin glass, and breakage is inevitable. Wash your glasses by hand with hot water and soap. Rinse well and immediately dry with a clean, lint-free cloth or towel.

Best advice: Use common sense. How much wine do you consume? What does your budget allow? Also, if you are going to invite a clumsy fool like me over sometime, make sure to have extra glasses on hand or at least a pair of handcuffs to keep my hands from knocking something over.

When we drink wine, we encompass all the senses. Our sense of smell is used when we inhale the great aromas of the wine. We use our eyes to sense the color and various hues of wine. Our sense of touch is incorporated when we hold the bottle, corkscrew and wine glass. The wine itself is tasted, bringing many other nuances to heighten our enjoyment.

What am I missing? We bring our hearing in when we raise our glasses and clink them together, toasting something special.


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