Does your wine glass really matter?

Pierre Mansour bravely enters into the debate on what is quite possibly the last bastion of wine snobbery

Wine glasses

A quick online search of wine glasses turns up thousands of results – a baffling array of shapes, materials and sizes. So, where do you start and does it make any difference to your enjoyment of wine?

Getting back to basics, several features are key to how a wine glass performs. The best have a stem to hold so that the temperature of the liquid isn't affected. The most important aspect of the design is the shape of the rim which should narrow to enhance the smell and aromatic intensity of the wine. And finally, a thin-rimmed glass influences what is technically called the flow pattern which directs the liquid to the various taste zones in the mouth. So, yes, the wine glass does play a very important role. It can enhance your wine-drinking experience whether your glass contains a complex, mature claret or a simple mid-week supper wine.

I often think of wine in terms of music with the glass acting like the loudspeaker. And just as die-hard music enthusiasts might choose different speakers for different genres, you could also argue that different wines need different glasses. Austrian manufacturers Riedel are the ultimate exponents of this approach, with glasses designed by grape variety in collaboration with winemakers, sommeliers and consumers. They really work but much like high-spec speaker systems, you would need deep pockets and a lot of shelf space to house them! Many purists argue that you do need a smorgasbord of glass types, others find the aesthetic quality of different glasses a joy to collect, and let's not forget how they grace a smartly laid table.

But for most wine aficionados, myself included, a good all-rounder will suffice. I use the same glass for red, white and sweet wines at home, and that's the approach we believe in at The Wine Society, where we offer members a compact, simple range of glasses that meet the criteria described above. Matthew Horsley, buyer for accessories, explains: 'The range I have just put together is basically saying you don't need a glass for specific grape varieties. Rather I've given members a 'good' and 'better' option for a 'one-size-fits-all' glass that caters for everything.'

Our anyday wine glass

This is Riedel's 'Extreme Riesling' glass which we're suggesting is the best affordable all-rounder. It looks the part but is pretty robust so you can be relaxed about handwashing it, and even putting it in the dishwasher. It has a decent-sized bowl and a tapered rim, so gives plenty of air to the wine but, being designed for riesling and other aromatic varieties, it nicely captures more elegant aromas.

Ref GL476 | £45 for set of 4

View our small but perfectly formed range of glassware

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Pierre Mansour

Director of wine and buyer for Spain

Pierre Mansour

Pierre Mansour joined the buying team in 2003 and was promoted to the position of Head of Buying in 2017 and then Director of Wine in 2019. He is responsible for Spain and Lebanon.

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