Do you ever wonder why we're supposed to drink wine from wine glasses, beer from beer glasses or brandy from brandy glasses? Well there's a reason and it's not as simple as you think. First, know this: It's not just meant to make you look fancy. These glasses are all specifically designed to maximize each drink's aroma and flavor in different ways. Even the pint glass you drink your beer out of is designed a certain way. And wine glasses, well, nowadays there's practically a glass for every variety, but you don't need more than a few to get by. Find out why each alcoholic beverage is meant to be drunk out of a specific glass in the slideshow below.
Red Wine/White Wine
The unique shape of wine glasses are for a reason -- it's there to help you notice aroma and flavor. The tulip shape of a wine glass is meant to direct aroma to your nose and the stem keeps you from altering the temperature of the wine in the glass. The shape also allows you to swirl the wine to release the aroma compounds that contribute to flavor. There are four main glass types to consider, two for each color. <strong>Red wine glasses:</strong> Robust red wines, like Cabernet and Bordeaux, are best in an elongated tulip shape (<em>left</em>). Fruity red wines, like Pinot Noir, Beaujolais and Burgundy, are best in a bowl-shaped glass (<em>third from left</em>). <strong> White wine glasses:</strong> Light-bodied white wines, like Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc, are best in small, slender tulip glasses (<em>second from left</em>). More robust white wines, like Chardonnay, are best in small bowl-shaped glasses (<em>right</em>).
Sparkling wines and Champagnes do best in glasses that hold in the bubbles, not ones that let them escape. Ideally a white wine glass would work very well, because it helps with aroma, but the bubbles dissipate too quickly. The best option is a tulip-shaped flute (left), because it keeps in the bubbles and has a slight curve to help you smell and taste. The other three glasses (pictured), though designed for sparkling wines, are not best suited for retaining the bubbles.
<strong>Lager glasses</strong> (<em>left</em>): Robust beers, like lagers, are best served in large, wide glasses. Regular pint glasses, which are tapered like tumblers would also work well. <strong>Wheat beer glass</strong> (<em>second from left</em>): Wheat beer glasses are tall and slender, in between a lager glass and a Pilsner glass. The shape allows more room for the foamy head and makes the aromas much more pronounced. <strong>Pilsner glass</strong> (<em>third from left</em>): Pilsner beers are best served in tall, tapered glasses. The shape captures the effervescence, color and allows for formation of the foamy head. <strong>Stemmed beer glass</strong> (<em>right</em>): Some beers, like ales and stouts, actually are enhanced when served in stemmed glasses, like brandy snifters or tulip glasses. The shape allows better formation of the foamy head and gives you room to swirl to release aromas.
<strong>Brandy glasses</strong> (<em>left</em>): Brandy glasses, also called snifters, are designed to have a short and stout tulip shape to help the drinker take in aroma and flavor. The short stem allows the glass to be held in the palm so the liquor can be warmed to release more flavor. <strong>Cognac glasses</strong> (<em>center</em>): Though Cognac can be drunk from a brandy snifter, the unique tulip shape of a Cognac-specific glass and the rim allows for tasting nuances. <strong>Whiskey glasses</strong> (<em>right</em>): Whiskey can also be drunk from brandy snifters, but the unique thistle design of a whiskey glass aids in tasting specific flavors that are specific to the liquor. The elongated shape helps with aroma and the flared rim helps taste sweetness.
<strong>Old-Fashioned glass</strong> (<em>left</em>): This glass is a classic for serving spirits neat (without ice) or cocktails poured over ice (on the rocks). The glass is named after the Old-Fashioned cocktail, which is whiskey or Bourbon served over ice with a lemon twist. <strong>Highball glass</strong> (<em>center</em>): These tall glasses are used mainly for mixed drinks, but they also work for soft drinks. The glass is similar to the Collins glass but not as slender. "Highball" refers to drinks that have more mixer than alcohol. <strong>Martini glass</strong> (<em>right</em>): This glass is obviously most famous for Martini cocktails but it's also used for many other cocktails. Holding the stem helps keep the drink from warming. The cone shape keeps liquids, like gin and vermouth, from separating and also is a great display for ingredients like a cocktail olive or onion, lemon strip or a maraschino cherry.
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