Time for a glass of something?

Wine / Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Well, Rob and Heather booked a last minute trip to Melbourne this weekend. They’re off to see the Hans and Nora Heysen exhibition at NGV. I assume they will also be sampling some delicious food and wine (see photo). I think it’s only right that we relax a little as well. Perhaps enjoy a glass of wine or two?

While we do that, let’s talk about what you’re going to pour it into…


What’s in a glass?

Apart from wine that is!

Thanks to our friends at Glass Print Solutions, I had the opportunity to attend a glassware masterclass yesterday. It was presented by a big glassware company. I’d hate for you to think I’m being paid for this post though, so I’ll refrain from mentioning their name (it may or may not start with R!).

It is said that wines taste different depending on the shape of the glass. We’ve all seen or heard about those “grape varietal specific” glasses – specially designed to make your {insert favourite wine variety here} taste better.

To be perfectly honest, I had never been convinced. I just thought it was marketing departments doing what marketing departments do best. And putting aside the fact that yes, they want to sell wine glasses, I have to admit…

… they’re right!


But why?

Around 70-80% of the wine drinking experience comes through the aroma of the wine and our sense of smell. 20-30% comes from the taste sensation.

If you think of a glass as a translator of the story a wine-maker is trying to tell, then the type of glass should be an important consideration.

With the taste of the wine being driven by the aroma, it makes sense that a glass specifically designed to bring out the best of those aromas would make a significant difference to the overall experience.

From what I’ve heard, the details of the science behind it all seems a bit sketchy, but… as they say, the proof is in the pudding/tasting!


The proof…

The masterclass presented four wines – sauvignon blanc, oaked chardonnay, pinot noir, and shiraz. And of course, there was a glass which matched each one perfectly.

Let’s have a little look at what I discovered with each of them…

Sauvignon Blanc

In the right glass, the Geoff Hardy K1 Sauvignon Blanc had all those lovely fresh aromas we’ve come to associate with Adelaide Hills sauvy. We then poured it into the glass designed for Chardonnay and it was as if the volume had been turned right down – the aromas had basically disappeared! On the palate, the astringency of the acid was much more pronounced. It seemed totally out of balance. The length of the wine (how long it lingers in your mouth) was so much shorter in the Chardonnay glass too. It wasn’t long, fresh and fruit driven as it was in the sauvignon blanc glass.


In the right glass, the Pike & Joyce Chardonnay was full of fresh lifted fruit, it was nutty and nougaty (yes, it’s a word!). It had all the characters that you just know will make it a beautiful wine to age. On the palate, it had lovely fruit up front. Crisp dry acid, but also that creamy buttery acid giving it textural length. And then we killed it by putting it in the Sauvignon Blanc glass. It actually made me wonder if all those people who “don’t like Chardonnay” (me included) were just drinking it in the wrong glass! In the sauvy glass all you could smell was oak with a hint of fruit. The palate was sharp, bone dry and very short. What was really interesting was that the second sip was worse. Bland, oaky and boring.

Then things got really interesting. We were asked to taste the same wine from a plastic cup. You know the sort you get to drink your wine on a plane (in economy class of course!)? It made the wine taste plain (forgive the un-intended pun!). No aromatics, generic, not offensive.

Given the choice between the Chardonnay in the plastic cup or the Sauvignon Blanc glass, hands down… I would have chosen the plastic cup!

Pinot Noir

In the Pinot Noir glass, the Riposte Pinot was full of fresh berries. All those lovely Adelaide Hills strawberry aromas with a hint of mint. There was some nice spice on the palate, with silky elegant length. Then we tasted it from the Chardonnay glass.

If you check out the shapes of those two glasses (Pinot on the left, Chardy on the right) you can see that the bowl of the glass is the same shape. The only difference between the two glasses is the bit at the top.

A very quick wine aromas 101 lesson. They come in three levels…

  1. Fruit & floral
  2. Mineral & earth
  3. Alcohol & oak

In the chardonnay specific glass, the top level of those aromas completely disappeared. all the vibrancy which came from the fruit and floral aromas was gone. 

Also, on the palate the acid comes forward, the tannins seemed greener and the length was very short.


The Charlotte Dalton Shiraz has a beautiful fruit driven vibrancy in the shiraz glass. On the palate, there was savoury spicey notes, and the tannin was perfectly balanced. It had a lovely harmony. HOWEVER… in the Pinot glass, I could taste sour notes, almost an oxidative character. The wine had been completely distorted.



It was so interesting to see that although the components of the wine had not changed, the shape of the glass influence how those elements were presented. 

Even though they would like you to, it doesn’t mean that you have to buy the entire range of “varietal specific” stemware. It just means that you might want to figure out which wine glasses fit your drinking style because it will make your wine taste better.


Part Two

Choosing the right glass is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to serving wine. There are a few other things to keep in mind like what temperature to serve it at and whether to decant or not. There is also the big question of how long your wine will last once you’ve opened it (what? really? people don’t always finish a wine once it is opened?!).

How about we meet here at the same time next week when we chat about all of that and more? See you then!

3 Replies to “Time for a glass of something?”

  1. Hullo, mmmm, so which glass will my Sauvignon Blanc be served in on my next visit to Somerled?
    This is said tongue in cheek as I believe Somerled wines taste good in any glass.

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