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The size, shape and rim diameter of the wine glass can emphasize the wine's aroma, bouquet, tannins, taste and finish.
There are 4 sensations in wine.
1. Bouquet: Aroma (quality and intensity).
2. Texture: Mouth feel of wine (watery, creamy, silky, velvety).
3. Flavor: Fruit, minerality, acidity and bitter components.
4. Finish: After taste.
Source: Riedel Sommelier Guide

Claus J. Riedel, of the Austrian glass company by that name, was the first to understand how the shape of a glass dramatically affects a wine's bouquet and flavor. He is thus the inventor of the functional wine glass designing its shape according to the character of the wine. Their 1961 catalogue featured glasses of different sizes and shapes.

The Wine Advocate's Robert Parker has described the difference Riedel's glasses can make as "profound". See Riedel Glassware | The Wine Company
See Riedel Wine Glasses
and Can the Shape of Your Glass Enhance the Taste of the Wine?

Red wines and full flavoured white wines, such as oaked chardonnay are best served slightly oxidized (after breathing). The complex flavors of full bodiedare smoothed out after being exposed to air. A wider glass helps in this oxididation.
Some people think the breathing thing is overrated.

Many sources will claim that directing wine to different parts of the tongue will affect the taste. Open glass shapes require us to sip by lowering the head, whereas a narrow rim forces the head to tilt backwards so that the liquid flows. This delivers and positions the beverage to different 'taste zones' of the palate.
This taste zone theory seems to have been debunked now.
See LiveScience.
However, my personal opinion is that even though taste zone theory is baloney, having the wine hit the front of your tongue and roll over it will enhance the flavor of a delicate wine such as pinot noir.
It also seems to me that you don't have to tilt your head back with a narrow rim, so you can use a sipping technique with it also, making it more flexible. But, who am I to say. I drink Charles Shaw Two-Buck Chuck.

The effect of glass shape on the taste of wine has not been demonstrated by any scientific study and remains controversial. It is however believed by some that the shape of the glass is important, as it concentrates the flavour and aroma (or bouquet).
Wine-food expert, Fiona Beckett, says that it isn't something everyday drinkers should worry about "unless you're crazy about a certain type of wine and want it to show at its best."
See An all purpose glass below.

 
See also Crate&Barrel list
* Note Ridel's top of the line "Sommeliers Burgundy Grand Cru", $159/glass is not a wide as the ones shown here.


Red and Rosé
Glasses for red wine are characterized by their rounder, wider bowl, which increases the rate of oxidation. As oxygen from the air chemically interacts with the wine, flavor and aroma are subtly altered. This process of oxidation is generally more compatible with red wines, whose complex flavors are smoothed out after being exposed to air.
Click on images to go to the source.
Bordeaux glasses: Tall with a broad bowl, and is designed for full bodied red wines. This shape of bowl concentrates the aromas and flavors more than a wider-bowled glass. The narrower rim directs wine to the back of the mouth.
They are good for red wine in the Cabernet/Merlot family (all the varieties of Bordeaux, for example; Sangiovese-based wines, Zinfandel, Syrah/Shiraz, Tempranillo/Rioja, Gamay/Beaujolais, Grenache, Dolcetto, Aglianico, Primitivo)
Burgundy glass: Broader than the Bordeaux glass, it has a bigger bowl to accumulate aromas of more delicate red wines such as Pinot Noir/Burgundy, Barolo/Barbaresco, and Barbera. This style of glass directs wine to the tip of the tongue.
 

See Wine Review Online - The Incredible Importance of the Wine Glass


White

White wine glasses vary enormously in size and shape, from the delicately tapered Champagne flute, to the wide and shallow glasses used to drink Chardonnay.
For lighter, fresher styles of white wine, oxidation is less desirable as it is seen to mask the delicate nuances of the wine.
The glass intended for white wines is slender and has a long stem. Because white wine needs to remain cooler for a longer time, this type of wine glass is made with a thinner glass and is designed to have a narrower bowl (tulip-shaped or U-shaped) to prevent exposing as much of the wine's surface to the air.

Chardonnay/White Burgundy/Chablis work best in wider-bowled glasses similar to the Burgundy glass, though in such cases the bowl can be somewhat smaller.

Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio, Albariño, Chenin Blanc, Gewörztraminer, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc/Pinot Bianco, Semillon (in other words, most white wines) usually taste better in a fairly large, elongated, somewhat narrower bowl similar to the red Bordeaux glass, but the bowl can be a bit smaller.


All purpose glass:
If you can only afford one type, Riedel recommends the Ouverture Magnum ($12) or the Vinum Riesling Grand Cru/Chianti Classico ($35).
I'd recommend the Riedel "O" cabernet/merlot or Riedel 'O' Riesling/Sauvignon Blanc ($12) stemless glasses also.
Serving:
Never over-pour. You need room to swirl the wine and lift the aromas. Maximum of 3-5 oz/glass. That's about 2 fingers.
A typical glass is 15 - 24 oz, so it will not look very full. You should get 6 servings per bottle.
See temperature at the wine page
and Video Gallery - Riedel
Type of glass:
High quality wine glasses are often made of lead crystal. Lead crystal is rougher than glass on a microscopic level, allowing wine in the glass to breathe more efficiently when swirled in the bowl.
The lead oxide in glass is totally integrated into the molecular structure with no leaching possible.
The brilliance of lead crystal relies on the high refractive index caused by the lead content.
Others:
Roberts Taste Enhancing Wineware claims that their Supertaster wine glasses have Taste Stimulating Textures™ (TST™) on the outer glass near the rim which provoke the neural receptors on the tongue, encourage saliva flow and alerts our bodies to register pleasurable sensations associated with taste and flavor recognition.
Is this marketing hype gone wild?

Decanting: The practice of pouring wine from the bottle into another container before serving, was used to separate sediment.
Today, most inexpensive mass-market wines are filtered and fined or clarified, eliminating sediment. But many good red wines are not and continue to produce sediment, so once they reach middle age, decanting these wines, very carefully, remains advisable.

Care:
Real connoisseurs wash glasses by hand, using a supermarket washing soda that does not leave a soapy residue in the glass.
Riedel says their glasses can be washed in a dishwasher.
Riedel says the grape series of 24% leaded crystal is virtually indistinguishable from handmade crystal and yet is dishwasher safe.

Terms:
Burgundy - Wine produced in the region in (East-Central) France which makes red wines primality form the Pinot Noir grape.
Bordeaux - Wine produced in the Bordeaux region (SW) of France which makes wines in the Cabernet/Merlot family (all the varieties of Bordeaux, for example; Sangiovese-based wines, Zinfandel, Syrah/Shiraz, ...)
Sommelier - Wine steward or knowledgeable wine professional, normally working in fine restaurants, who specializes in all aspects of wine.

Companies:
Best:
Stölzle - Germany

Riedel - Austria
Williams-Sanoma has 5 types of Riedel glasses:
Sommeliers - Handmade - $110-$149/glass (Not on display in the store)
  See pictures.
Grape - Machine made of 24% leaded crystal - $34/glass
  Cabernet/Merlot, Syrah/Shiraz, Pino Noir, Viognier/Chardonnay, Chardonnay, Champagne
Vinum - Machine made lead crystal - $30/glass
  Bordeaux. Burdundy, Syrah, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling Grand Cru/ Zinfandel/ Chianti Classico
Platinum - $24/glass
  Red, White
Overture - Entry level series - $20/glass
  Magnum, Red wine, White wine
"O" Trio - Stemless - $10/glass
  Bordeaux. Burdundy, Chardonnay

Spiegelau (Owned by Riedel) - Germany

Better:
Ravenscroft - New York and Pennsylvania

Libbey - Toledo, Ohio

Schott Zwiesel (a brand of Zwiesel Kristallglas, AG) - Germany

Wine glasses are $7-$11 at Crate & Barrel

My Favorite Wine Glasses: Best Value for the Money | The Kitchn

Links:
Choosing Wine Glasses
Choosing the Perfect Glassware to Complement your Wine | Wine Portfolio
NoGarlicNoOnions: Can the Shape of Your Glass Enhance the Taste of the Wine?
Joy's JOY of Wine: Does the Wine Glass Affect the Wine's Taste?
Wine Review Online - The Incredible Importance of the Wine Glass
Wine glass - Wikipedia
Why Does Wine Need to Breathe? - Yahoo! Voices
Wine Questionary: Breathing - Does the wine need air? - wineloverspage.com
Wine Glasses & Wine Decanter's | CellarOfWine.com
My Favorite Wine Glasses: Best Value for the Money | The Kitchn

last updated 1 Mar 2013