Have you ever sat enjoying a bottle of wine with a friend and when you got about half way through it, thought that it was starting to taste better? You were probably right, and here’s the mind-blowing thing, it’s not because you were getting drunker, it’s because you didn’t air it properly first, and it may have something to do with your glasses as well.
Decant for Taste
The longer wine is exposed to air, the better it often tastes. According to sommelier Andy Narusewicz, educator and curator at the Leesburg Gourmet in Leesburg, Virginia, decanting wines, especially not-so-great wines can really help them taste better. It allows sulfur to blow off and oxygen can make it smoother and a little less “alcohol” tasting.
Narusewicz recommends giving younger wines at least 30 minutes, but even up to an hour to air before drinking them.
The other reason to decant is to remove sediment. This is especially true for red wines. “A lot of people forget wines are agricultural products. Old wines are fragile, so you need to remove the sediment.”
Consider Your Glass
Wine glasses, according to Narusewicz can make a huge difference in your overall experience. “People need to be cognizant of the impact glassware has on wine. First, you want to find something that compliments the structure and aromatic profile of the wine.”
Wider glasses allow alcohol to evaporate off quicker which minimizes the “burning” sensation the alcohol sometimes has on the nose and palate.
According to Narusewicz the following guidelines should be followed when selecting glasses for your wine:
Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo
Especially true for Burgundies, these highly nuanced wines should go in big bowl glasses. “Wines like these have very complex aroma profiles,” says Narusewicz, “the bowl allows more surface area to come in contact with the air. When you spin the wine… you release more of the good stuff up towards your nose. The bowl holds all of the complexity there for you.”
Aromatic White Wines (Riesling or Muscat Blanc, for example)
“These wines have intense floral and citrus aromas that are best enjoyed in a tight concentration,” advises Narusewicz. “Getting glasses that are narrower at the rim help concentrate the amazing aromas up in your nose.”
Champagne and Sparkling Wines
The surprising news is champagne flutes may be a matter of style over substance. The flutes are beautiful and designed to enhance the lovely bubbles in the glass, but this in fact dampens the taste. According to Narusewicz most champagne winemakers prefer normal white wine glasses.
Stem vs. Stemless
According to Narusewicz industry experts can go to war over this issue (who knew, right?). He recommends always drinking out of stem glasses because holding the glass from the stem prevents your hand from heating up the bowl and thereby changing the wine from its ideal service temperature.
Make it Easy on Yourself
Narusewicz says the best glasses in the world are from the Austrian glass maker Reidel. He is particularly fond of their cabernet glasses as “catch all” glasses, but the best thing about this glass maker is they have a staggering array of glasses specific to each varietal of wine to take the guess work out of it. Their glasses are also made of thinner glass, which means the wine will be slower to change from its ideal temperature.
As always with wine, don’t get too stressed out over the presentation and be sure to just enjoy the experience. As Narusewicz jokes even he has been known to enjoy “enjoy drinking a 1976 Chateau Cheval Blanc out of a plastic wine glass from Target (desperate times…).”
Laura has been writing and editing for more than 25 years, a fact which more than a source of pride, sends her running to the wrinkle cream aisle of CVS. She has worked for CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, The Economist Intelligence Unit, and CBS radio. She has three children, and you will either find her thoroughly enjoying their company or yelling at them to clean up after themselves and turn off the lights.