Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Glass Tasting -- Stems versus Tumblers

I knew glassware made a difference in wine taste and experience, but I'd never done a true glass tasting before last weekend. After shopping for glassware with friends Sunday, we taste tested a big cabernet with red wine tumblers (Lenox red) against higher end traditional bowl stems. I was very surprised by the difference. The wine was completely different in the tumbler.

Without doing a formal side-by-side tasting, we made some guesses about why ranging from the shape of glass (the tumbler was a more angular bowl while the stem was very rounded) or the size of the bowl (stem was bigger producing more nose). However, the biggest difference was where the wine hit the tongue first. I couldn't tell whether it was the thickness of the glass or the style, but the wine from the tumbler hit the tongue a full 1/2 centimeter forward -- and even right on the tip. The wine from the stem hit the tongue further back which seemed to attribute for almost all of the taste difference in the wine. We didn't have the Riedel "O" cabernet tumbler for further comparison which would have had a bowl that approximated our stem sample more closely. (The Lenox Red is a slightly thicker crystal and shaped more like the Riedel Pinot Noir style.)

Our tasting wasn't very structured by any means, but certainly makes me want to do a more formal survey. I may have to enlist some help for this one but I feel another tasting evening coming on.

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