Different glasses for red or white wine
I was shopping for wine glasses for my boyfriend's apartment and noticed there were different glasses for red wines and white wines. The red wine glasses were fatter and shorter in the actual part that holds the wine, and the white wine were more narrow but taller.
Why are they served in different glasses? Does anyone know?
Riedel would like you to believe that it makes the wine taste different
( http://www.wineglassguide.com/ ) ... on some level it does - the shape of a given red wine glass for instance, will open the nose more and/or direct wine to a different part of your mouth ... for normal, everyday use with normal everyday wines, one medium sized glass is fine for reds and whites. I'm more concerned about the thickness of the glass (thinner is better) ...
There are several prior posts on this subject and I’ve linked to two below. For everyday, the general consensus is most use two styles: the Bordeaux and the Chablis/Chardonnay as represented in the Riedel Vinum line. Riedel has a neat little catalogue that tells which glass to use. I’ve added the Burgundy (Pinot Noir) because I drink a lot of Nebbiolo, which calls for that style. However, you need to know that Zinfandel and Chianti/Sangiovese use the Chard style, so it’s not just red and white. In fact, I substituted the Zin glass for the Chard glass, as they are about the same size. The only way to know if it makes a difference is to try your Chianti in the Bordeaux and Chard glasses side by side to see if you taste the difference. My friendly wine shop owner did this to me, so now I only drink Zin and Sangiovese out of the smaller glass. After breaking most of my Vinum stems, I now use Schott Zweisel “Tritan” (about $9 each) and haven’t broken one yet.
Like many things created by humans - things are often done by tradition. The same way you could ask why Cabernet type wines are sold in bottles that are shaped differently than Syrah type wines. There is belief that red wines are more likely to benefit from larger area in contact with the air hence the glasses are "fatter". Again, experimentation over centuries, tradition, tendency in humans to run away from "uniformity" where art is concerned (wine is art!)...
The truth is you could drink wine from used jelly jars if you had to. (I am sure I would if I had no other choice.) As others have pointed out, there are actually many types of wine glasses beyond Red and White. Glasses are manufactured for specific varities of wine (Bordeaux, Pinot, Zin, Chardonnay, etc). As a general rule, I am not that demanding of my stemware. I prefer the "fatter and shorter" wine glass for my red wine. I like to swirl the wine, I believe some red wine benefits from the increased surface area that is exposed to the air, and I like the way the glass looks and feels in my hand. On that theory, I suppose the same style glass would work for white wine, but we use the "more narrow and taller" glasses for white wine, out of tradition, in part, I am sure. If I am at someone else's home, and served red wine in a white wine glass, I think nothing of it. I simply enjoy the wine, the food and the company, all of which are more important to the overall experience than the glass.
Our "go to" glass for red is "Bordeaux" and for white is "Chablis". We have others, but if forced to downsize, these would be the two I would keep. (We would also keep flutes for champagne and sparkling wine.)
If you are looking for wine glasses for everyday entertaining, Cost Plus World Market carries an affordable line of nice glasses that come in many shapes and sizes. This provides a less expensive way to experiment with different sizes and shapes of glasses to determine your preferences, before (if ever) you invest in higher-end stemware.
One useful addition that we have made over the years is an investment in some better quality acrylic glasses. They will never replace crystal for entertaining, but it is nice to have an appropriate unbreakable option for use outside by the pool. In recent years, much better quality has become availble in acrylic.
The different shaped bowls do create different aromas. For me, the most important bowls to have are the Burgundy (bowl) shaped glasses as I drink a lot of Pinot, Amarone, and mosre than anything these days, Barbera and Nebbiolo, and I genuinely feel these wine smeel and taste better from these glasses. For Cabernet and other wines whose aromatic I would prefer to focus, I will use Bordeaux (taller, skinnier) glasses. White wine generally goes in more medium-sized glasses or "Chianti/Zinfandel" glasses, but, to be honest, I just pour it in my red wine glasses, too.