Simon Milroy, Manager at Majestic Battersea and approved WSET* tutor, was accepted onto the Master of Wine Course last year and is currently awaiting his first year exam results. Here, he delves into the science of selecting the perfect tasting glass.
Every January, a group of rather nervous first-year Master of Wine students (this year including me) head to Rust in Austria for seven very intensive days of study groups, lectures and wine-tasting. Alongside the MW’s, there are a few guest speakers of notable provenance; this year, they included the 10th generation president of arguably the most famous glass company in the world: George Riedel.
Preparing for the rigorous practical exam involves a lot of tasting; and choice of glass is key. Now, the sceptical among you may well say a glass is just a glass and the shape and design of it is purely an aesthetic attribute. If so, it’s time to reconsider your views (and your choice of glassware). One only needs to look to Belgium and its myriad of beer glasses; each carefully designed and shaped to enhance the flavour of a specific beer. So is the case with wine, as you can easily discover for yourself. The proof is in the tasting: try the same wine in two different style glasses and I guarantee you’ll notice the contrast in both aroma and taste.
The first impression of, say, a Champagne comes from its bouquet. With a tall, thin flute concentrating the flavour, the wine’s toasty brioche aroma is more pronounced. In a wide-rimmed glass, this delicate aroma would be lost (so although allowing impressive fountains to be built, Champagne saucers or coupes are not ideal!). By contrast, oaky Chardonnays need a wide-rimmed glass to stop the oak dominating the nose.
Following on to the palate, a narrow-rimmed glass focuses the wine into the centre of the mouth, avoiding the acidity detectors on the side of the tongue, while a wide-rimmed glass presents the wine more evenly, directing the sip to all the different taste zones within the mouth. Oxygen is another crucial element. For instance, a glass with a large bowl helps big, tannic wines to aerate, open up and soften.
One wine glass company who has a range which has considered all of these aspects of wine drinking carefully is Riedel. They have a fantastic selection of glasses designed for a myriad different wine occasions. A few selected stores stock a limited range of these glasses. Please contact your local store for more details.
*Wine & Spirit Education Trust. For more information visit www.wset.co.uk
Simon Milroy, Majestic Battersea