You’ve chosen a rare bottle of whiskey and are sitting around with friends, anticipating the many notes you’ll all soon enjoy. Then you realize, all you have available are tumblers better suited for lemonade. Don’t get caught in that situation. Choosing the right glassware for the drink means the difference between clearly smelling the aroma and tasting every note, or only receiving half the pleasure. Let’s get started on which glassware works best so you’ll be ready when that rare whiskey is opened.
Does It Really Matter?
Yes! It really does matter. The proper glass is shaped according to what it’s holding. Each glass designed to do a particular job for a spirit has the right size opening for your nose to enjoy the aromatic notes. It may also be designed to eliminate or increase evaporation, or to show off the color of your drink. So again, the answer is yes. The glass chosen will alter the way a drink is enjoyed.
Let’s begin our discussion with wine glasses.
The Wine Glass
The wine glass is more commonly found in homes compared to other drinking glasses. If anything, most of us find a wine glass attractive. The lovely long stems look nice in our glassware cabinets. Still, are you sure you’re using the right one each time? Whites and reds have different needs, and those pretty wine glasses serve a purpose.
The bowl of a glass plays a big role in how that aroma may or may not escape. When it comes to red wine, that’s the first thing to look at. How deep or wide is the bowl of the glass? Many red wines have beautiful bouquets you don’t want to miss, so a larger bowl is important.
A traditional red wine glass, which is suitable for all red wines, has a decent amount of length from the bottom of the bowl to the top of the glass. There’s a reason for this; it gives the aromas more distance to travel before they reach your anxious nose. Thanks to the distance, some of the burn from the alcohol dissipates before you smell the notes, and that means every note is enjoyed, rather than searched for through the burn of the alcohol.
Traditional white wine glasses have a smaller bowl and narrow rim. Just as with all glassware, there is a reason for this. Many white wines are served chilled. The smaller bowl aids in keeping the wine cool. Also, the narrow rim gives white wine drinkers a concentration of the delicate aromas. Unlike bold, red wines, white wine’s notes are subtle, so in order to take them all in, the narrow rim traps them for us.
In recent years, stemless wine glasses have appeared. They are useful in situations such as when you’re outside and concerned with a tall-stemmed glass easily tipping over. However, they aren’t the best option for drinking wine.
The stems on wine glasses aren’t just for looks, although they are certainly elegant and beautiful. Holding the stem keeps our warm hands off the bowl of the glass. Those warm hands raise the temperature of the wine, and after being stored at the perfect temperature for your enjoyment, it’s a shame to change that with a stemless glass. Go ahead and keep a few stemless glasses on hand but focus your collection on stemmed wine glassware.
You know that feeling when you need a little room to breathe? Whiskey feels the same way. All whiskey glasses are designed to not fill to the rim (sorry). With room to circulate, your nose feels and smells the notes. As we discuss whiskey, we are referring to bourbon, scotch whisky, American, Irish, and Tennessee whiskeys. They all fare well in the following glasses:
The only whiskey glass with a stem, the tulip is perfect when you want to avoid having a hand directly on the glass. The oils from our hands easily contact the rim of some whiskey glasses because the glasses are short. Potentially, the oils could mix with the whiskey, making the experience not quite as pure. And of course, our hands affect the temperature of the whiskey when directly placed on the glass (that is sometimes desired, but not always).
On a side note, the tulip also serves your favorite sipping tequila quite well.
Absolutely the most common, the tumbler is also called an old-fashioned glass, a lowball, or a rocks glass. You’ll most likely receive a tumbler at the local pub when ordering up your Jameson or Jack. Tumblers come in every style and design, so you can choose as simple or detailed as you like.
The snifter is recognized by its wide bottom and narrow top. Perfectly designed, the narrow rim allows for intense sniffing, while the wide bottom creates a large surface area of whiskey, allowing proper evaporation of the alcohol burn.
The Neat Glass
The neat glass is a bit of a newer design. The wide rim which flares out is said to eliminate even more burn because the ethanol makes a quick getaway. When the burn is eliminated from a drink, tasting its notes becomes easier. So, many tasting enthusiasts swear by the neat glass.
In the end, no matter which design feels best in your hand, it’s worth the investment to go with high quality when choosing the right glassware for the drink. Thin glass tends to break easily, so, if possible, feel glasses before purchasing. A little weight is good. Much glassware has an heirloom quality, so if you hope to pass it down some day, choose wisely.
Drinks such as wine and whiskey are created to be enjoyed. Sure, we all had our days of throwing back a shot in order to not taste a drink. Hopefully, those days are over now (but hey, no judgement here). Now it’s time to put your feet up after work and slowly sip that wine or whiskey in the most beautiful glassware you can find. You work hard and you deserve it. See…adulting isn’t so bad after all.
VS Liquor enjoys helping our hard-working friends enjoy those evenings with rare liquor and wines. We don’t waste our time keeping an inventory of anything less than excellent. Contact us or shop our online store for the best whiskey, wine, and fine spirits.