The same wine tastes different in different glasses, with the aromas and flavours really coming into their own in the right glass, says wine connoisseur Alok Chandra.
It's fairly well established today that wines should be consumed out of uncut stemmed wine glasses.
The rationale is quite simple: The clear glass allows one to see the wine's colour and clarity better; a curved bowl helps to concentrate aromas; and a stem allows the liquid to be sipped at the temperature it was served at rather than get warmed up by touch.
This was, however, not always so.
Wine has been around for over 8,000 years, so obviously the receptacle used to imbibe it has changed over time.
The earliest would have been a simple cup or bowl -- indeed, 'being in one's cups' means being drunk!
Better-off consumers would use bowls made of silver or even gold, and the goblet -- the precursor of the modern wine glass -- must have evolved fairly early.
Glass was first developed in ancient Egypt around 1500 BC, but remained rare and expensive.
Its knowledge and use declined in the 'dark ages' of Europe (up to around 1000 CE) and its use really revived only in the start of the second millennium.
Venetian glass became famous from around the 11th century onwards and glassmaking evolved with the invention of lead crystal glass by English glassmaker George Ravenscroft in 1674.
Fast forward to today, when a whole industry has developed around offering different shapes and sizes of wine glasses for different wines.
At the very bottom is the 'all-purpose' wine glass so beloved of most clubs and low-end bars: A horrible, small, unequally-formed thing that the establishment feels compelled to serve whatever wine available to its uncomprehending clientele. Cost: Rs 100 to Rs 15 a piece.
Then come machine-produced wine glasses (Ocean is a popular brand) -- uniform in shape, bigger bowls, ranging in cost from Rs 150 to about Rs 350 per piece.
Here's when the producers start differentiating between white and red wine glasses -- the former are a bit smaller, for no good reason.
Buy these on any online Website -- but beware of items at the lower end of the price range.
Next up the 'glass chain' would be larger and better-quality wine glasses costing between Rs 400 and Rs 1,000 per piece: The thinner glass and larger bowls capture the wine aromas better and the wine glasses themselves look more elegant.
Last (but not least) are the top branded wine glasses: Riedel, Schott Zwiesel, Bottega, Spiegleau, Baccarat, Waterford, and more.
Most have a history going back 100 to 200 years or more, all are based in Europe or the UK, and all now produce various ranges costing anything from Rs 1,000 to over Rs 5,000 per wine glass.
Interestingly, all the top producers now have wine glasses targeted at specific wines and even varietals -- so there are different Riedel glasses for Bordeaux, red Burgundy (Pinot Noir), white Burgundy (Chablis) and so on.
This is, of course, apart from different wine glasses for sparkling wines, port and sherry.
The Bangalore Wine Club held a Riedel glass tasting at the Sheraton Grand some months back, conducted by industry professional Alexander Zorin.
It was amazing how the same wine tasted different in different glasses, with the aromas and flavours really coming into their own in the right glass.
So, cheers to using the correct wine glass.
Alok Chandra is a Bengaluru-based wine consultant.