Along with a bottle of bubbly, a fine claret or a super Tuscan, to make any occasion that more special, stemware is also seen as a symbol of celebration.
But are you reaching for the right glass?
Whether you’re an enthusiastic wine lover or just want to feel more confident when entertaining at home, Oz Clarke’s new book Wine By The Glass sheds some light on which vessel you should be using for your favourite drop of vino.
From crystal to paper cups, Clarke shares some thoughts to help you gain more pleasure from your wine…
“I used to be one of the ‘a tooth mug will do’ brigade. And I have drunk stunning wine out of a tooth mug (Sassicaia 1968) and a plastic mug (Margaux 1961). They were fantastic. I can still vividly recall the flavours.
“Or was it the occasion I’m recalling (my bedroom for the Sassicaia, and a car park in the Rhône Valley for the Margaux)? I think that’s quite enough detail, thank you. And the only time I used to draw the line was with paper cups.
“Particularly the BBC’s paper cups.
“Absolutely everything, from tap water to tea to vintage Champagne tastes like a BBC paper cup when drunk from a BBC paper cup.
“Nowadays, I’m a believer in good glasses. They do make a difference to how a wine tastes. The shape and the size – even the thickness – of a glass affects the wine’s flavour.
“Don’t ask me how. I’ve read all the science put out by glassmakers like Riedel and Zalto and can’t understand why you need a different shape and size of glass for virtually every different grape variety on earth – unless, of course, it’s that they make oodles more money that way.
“But without a doubt a bigger glass, preferably with a reasonably chubby bowl, and one which narrows a bit at the top to catch the wine’s perfume, does give you more pleasure.
“Some of that will be because wines nearly always improve with aeration – whenever you see wine buffs, they’re always swirling the wine round in their glasses. And some of that will be because you feel more pampered with a big glass, the wine does look better, you look better with a big glass and, for that matter, the world looks better through a big glass.”
Clarke’s glass essentials:
Good glasses do make a difference to how a wine tastes and the ideal glass for red and white wine is a fairly large tulip shape.
A decent fat bowl is best for red wine. A smaller version works well for white wine. A stemless tumbler and French bistro glass are practical alternatives. A copita or nosing glass is good for fortified wines.
Extracted from Wine By The Glass by Oz Clarke, published by Pavilion Books, illustrations by Jay Cover, priced £9.99. Available now.