Or do we really need those special wineglasses?
“You need to drink this wine from a proper glass”.
I hear –and read -- this all the time.
“This wine cannot be enjoyed in just any glass, it must be drunk from the Bobby Rydell’s “Spelunker Series” otherwise the experience just cannot be appreciated”. You should use this glass for Pinot, this for Cabernet, this for Syrah, this for Colombard…. Horserot, horserot, horserot.
Sorry. It’s just that this stuff has been around for so long without much rebuttal. Believe me, I’d rather drink Champagne from a crystal flute than a water glass. But the notion can be taken to limits not worth pursuing by everyday drinkers or even the gourmet.
The background of this misconception?
Number One: The tongue is divided into sections which pick up the essences of taste depending upon where the wine hits the tongue. As this theory goes, salt receptors lie on this part of the organ, sweet on that part, tart on that part, etc. This means that the glass is constructed to have the wine, as it moves from the inclined glass to the waiting mouth, move onto the tongue towards its design, its segmentation, its intended final destination.
Number Two: The shape of the glass forces the wine flow onto a particular part of this tongue which then alters the appreciation of the wine. Bulbous opened glass this way, narrow glass that way, etc.
Number Three: The thinness of crystal glasses make for a more pleasurable, sensuous experience.
Well, let’s look at this.
Number One: The tongue is NOT divided into specific sections upon which salt, acid, sugar, etc are each more significantly sensed. In fact, the tongue is divided along lines with sweetness, sourness, etc, perceived in many places along this organ. This has been known for a very long time; in fact, Scientific American did a piece on it several years ago debunking the segmentation theory. Yet people –even people who should know better –still promote it and use it as sales tools. But like the old conception of the thicker legs on a glass of dry wine coming from its glycerin content, or the putting of salt on a chicken’s tail to make it easier to catch, it still obtains.
Number Two: The shape of the glass is very important. The shape of the glass does not know the shape of your mandibular structure; that is, it does not know the relevant position of your lips to your jaw to your palate and tongue. If therefore your jaw is more prominent than the next person’s, would that wine fall from the favorite glass at exactly the same place on your tongue (see Number One) as the same wine poured onto a person who was, as the Australians say, a “gormless wonder”, or a no-chin Charlie?
Number Three: They might have something there. But after the third drink…
My suggestion? Get a good, all-around 8 ounce Libby or equivalent wine glass for everyday use and have a Champagne flute on hand for great fizzy experiences. The birthday, the christening, the graduation, the wedding? Rent them or borrow them if you feel you must.