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Does The Vessel You Drink From Matter?

Two very different articles:

I am interested in what Chowhounds think after reading the articles.

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  1. The vessel does matter to me. I have nice white and red wine glasses and the stemless glasses as well. I often drink club soda from a wine glass while I make dinner.
    We do buy plastic wine glasses with stems for the beach and boat.
    I really like the new aluminum blue Bud Light "bottles." I don't even want to drink from the regular bottles now that I have discovered those.

    1. not that much.

      I have one set of good wine glasses that I use mostly when I drink "a lot better" wines, and/or when I have guests.

      99% of the time, everything go in simple, but good quality INAO type glasses, or simple "tumbler" kind of glasses.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Maximilien

        My opinion is glassware is more important for the occasion in company of others....dinner out or entertaining guests or example. Quality glass/stemware shows respect for the wine, and or liquor, it deserves for the efforts of the producers making them.

        With that said.....when I'm alone at home....as long as it's glass, I don't care if I'm drinking out of my Fred Flintstone jelly jar glass from my youth.

      2. If the 'vessel' alters the aroma, or your ability to experience the aroma, it will make a difference. So when the one article says avoid plastic cups, it makes obvious sense. They don't mention it, but paper cups are even worse. They alter both the aroma and the flavor.

        But when it comes to differentiating between some high end stemware versus a cheap rock glass, the differences are subtle to the point of vanishing. The temperature of the wine is going to be way more important. Factors like decanting and letting a red breath is going to dwarf the effects of different wine glasses.

        But if holding a nice crystal glass, or knowing your holding a Riedel, if that makes you feel better about the wine, you will enjoy the wine more. If you want to enjoy your wine, then its all good. If you want to develop your pallete and differentiate between good and bad wines, then don't bother with the high end stemware and just use any old wine glass that lets you sniff and swirl and observe clarity, color, and the other characteristics that do matter when judging a wine.

        1. This is really a matter of personal preference. And the best way to determine your own personal preference is to smell/drink the same wine from different vessels, and the see if there is an appreciable different to you. You may find out that the vessel doesn't matter for some wines, but does for others.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Brad Ballinger

            You should compare as many glasses as possible, even if it requires more than one bottle to complete the testing.

          2. I realize there is a lot of debate on this subject. My personal research tells me that the glass does make a difference. A good wine is going to be okay in whatever glass, but is definitely enhanced by having enough room to swirl and swish. We've tried the same wine in two different glasses, and have decided there is a wrong and a right.

            What do you personally think? Isn't that all that really matters?

            1 Reply
            1. re: ChefJune

              I think I personally enjoy drinking out of a nice wine glass. I do not know whether the wine hits my palate any different, but it is sort of like I enjoy having a nice meal on my good china. It just adds a little something special. It does not make my food taste better, but it is an enhancement of my overall enjoyment!

              Everyday wine I drink out of my normal wine glasses. If they break, I will not get a little sinking feeling. If we are camping, I still bring the wine glasses, but when we have a big crowd, we break out the silos. I have never had someone refuse a wine because it was served in a red plastic cup. Not once.

            2. My personal opinion: Varietal-specific glasses are a gimmick. That doesn't mean shape is entirely irrelevant, however. The bouquets of some wines -- old Burgundies are a classic example -- need a lot of space to develop to their fullest. Chilled wines are best served in glasses smaller than would be ideal for room-temperature wines since they lose their chill and so should be replenished often. Pour sizes for fortified wines should be significantly smaller than for unfortified wines; the glasses should be correspondingly smaller. Sparkling wines should be served in flutes to show their bead to best advantage. In short, five is a good number:
              - large balloon for Burgundies and other reds with expansive bouquets
              - largish stem for most reds and big whites
              - somewhat smaller stem for most whites and chilled reds
              - small glass (INAOs are fine) for fortified wines
              - flute for sparkling wines.

              1. Does to me, I use Ridel's, white and red sets. I also have everyday stuff and great pilsner glasses for the brew and flutes for the bubbly.

                1. Two issues: what is the vessel material? Glass, plastic, wood, paper, etc.
                  What is the shape of the glass? Important, to me.

                  Certainly glass is my preference, so much so that I have several coolers packed with inexpensive glasses. I can taste and smell paper cups, so no go there. Plastic only if there is no glass. Plastic glasses usually aren't shaped to concentrate aromas, nor are they as fun as glass, but they can get you by.

                  Vessel shape: A vessel big enough to swirl: a globe. A vessel that narrows at the lip to concentrate aromas. Barring those two things, a cheap logo glass that can be used on the deck or on picnics.

                  I generally only use four types of glasses: large all-purpose globe with a narrowed lip,
                  burgundy glasses, flutes, and cheap logo glasses. Many other types are in the cabinet gathering dust.

                  Riedel glass shape experiment: I remember drinking a Sauternes-style wine (Dolce)
                  out of thirteen different glasses. The differences in flavors and aromas were amazing.

                  1. Sal,

                    I would recommend that you do a Riedel tasting. These are often staged at wine society events, cooking schools and wine tasting events. Most of these will yield more in take-home stemware, than the cost of the tasting.

                    Go in with a skeptical mind, and tune out much of the talk. Let your tasting determine what you think. See if you can tell any differences. Do not be tempted to buy, even with the offered discounts, unless YOU can tell a difference. Maybe you can, and maybe you cannot. Do not be swayed by anyone around you. Maybe use ear plugs, and taste.

                    That will be a good test, and then you can decide for yourself. I will refrain from offering any anecdotal comments, until you have had the opportunity to do the tasting for yourself.

                    Good luck,


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      Love this advice. Isn't one's own personal taste experience what really matters?

                      1. re: mojoeater

                        "Isn't one's own personal taste experience what really matters?"

                        Absolutely! It is about the pleasure that one receives from the vessel and from the liquid inside that.

                        For me, the glassware can enhance the experience, so it is worth it for me. For others, well, they could enjoy the wines from a coconut shell. That does not make them wrong, only different from me.


                    2. Ah… the vessel…

                      There are many glass art galleries in my neighborhood, many vessels never meant to hold anything it seems, they are never filled. Not filled because the glass is more valuable then whatever it would contain. But the vessel shape, it’s a symbol in itself. The shell, the womb etc. Some people devote their lives to glass…Dale Chihuly as an example.
                      (see www.chihuly.com) Art, food it’s all about passion and passion involves the senses.

                      Drinking wine is ritualistic. In rituals the implements are always symbolic and significant. Our bodies are vehicles/vessels for our souls. The glass is a vessel.

                      I especially love to drink my rotten grape juice in a pair of glasses given as a gift that has some gold leaf in the glass. Possibly it makes me feel special. Of course it matters what you put your rotten grape juice in! Gold is the best.

                      Plastic does have a scent that I can pick up at times that must mingle and interfere with the wine smells. Petrol products put off chemical fumes, I’ve read that the fumes can ruin clothing. Plus wine drinking is sensual. Putting plastic in the mouth feels different then putting glass on the lips. Supporting the weight of a delicate stem feels different then grabbing my fingers around a plastic cup. Stems are slinky and curvy.

                      Not only does plastic smell funny but it’s like a sippy cup. Isn’t being a connoisseur all about finding something special, doing something special, having something special. At least it’s an aspect. The psychology behind it is of social status. Just like all the fuss women put into picking out clothes.

                      My gypsy Grandmother gave me a thick antique lavender goblet that I had when I was a young woman, every sip out of that thing took on mystical properties. The cup was old, weird, beautiful and my grandmother was mysterious. The right accoutrements create an ambience. The whole experience can transport a person to a different time and place, like opening theater curtains to watch a story unfold. Dimming the lights.

                      It’s just like all the fuss about picking the right tea cup. It must feel right in the hand and look right to the eyes. Touch, sight, smell, taste, sound. Glass even sounds melodious, especially wine cups the shape is an upside-down bell. Who knows maybe on a molecular level the glass reverberates in the same way that our cells vibrate.

                      Get the biggest, baddest, sexiest cup you can find and flaunt it.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: EmyLouie

                        Thank you for this. I love this comment because it reminds me of the value of simple pleasures and personal rituals. There is something nurturing about going to that favorite coffee mug or beautiful wine glass, even a flintstone jelly jar.

                        1. re: Lewes17266

                          My first thoughts were that the "Dago" reds of the family I married into, the vin du pays, and the peasant Basque, Portugeuse, and Spanish wines, would simply not taste nearly as good if not served in a tumbler or jelly jar. And going a step further, serving the Basque and Portugeuse reds well chilled, while not my preference, has made many an old timer very happy.

                        2. re: EmyLouie

                          I'm with EmyLouie. The glass matters significantly to the whole experience. Plastic...well plastic ruins it. It does have a negative feel and aroma and makes the best wines seem mediocre. And Styrofoam ? Don't get me started!

                        3. The vessel with the pestle was to have the pellet with the poison and the chalace from the palace, the brew that was true. But then the chalace from the palace broke.. So the pellet with he poison went into the flagon with the dragon and the vessel with the pestle had the brew that was true.

                          So, yes. It matters.

                          Look, we've all, at one point in our lives found ourselves in a hotel room drinking good wine out of inferior cups at 2:00am. But, glasses make a big difference in how they capture aromas and guide the wine onto the palate. That said, I don't always *agree* with what traditionalist would say... for example, I prefer to drink Champagne out of medium-sized Bordeaux shaped glasses as opposed to Champagne glasses.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: whiner

                            The closest I've ever had to a vessel with a pestle is a becherl with a broche.
                            Silver sterling, that is. Made in Vilnus, 1875.
                            Even concord Manischewitz in the becherl with a broche tastes worst than a flagon with a dragon.

                            1. re: RicRios

                              Worse than the "flagon with the dragon?" Ewh-h-h, that is bad!


                            2. re: whiner

                              "The vessel with the pestle was to have the pellet with the poison and the chalace from the palace, the brew that was true." Obviously , Donald O'Conner was a "Hound." eh?

                              For me, it does matter. I attempt to give each wine the best that I can offer, regardless of the end results - "the brew that is true... " Good, bad, it's about my respect for the winemaker, and how he/she hold up is out of my hands.


                              1. re: whiner

                                Thanks for posting "The vessel with the pestle." I pulled this up and showed my kids who had no idea who Danny Kaye was - gosh, what a talent - and now they're totally hooked!

                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                  My parents showed The Court Jester to me when I was very young -- must have been 8 or so, and I loved it. Became part of my childhood.

                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                    Ah, but is the wine in the "chalice from the palace" any better? That is the real question.


                                2. It definitely matters. To a small, but important extent if one is drinking really well, even slight differences withing the range of similarly sized bowls.
                                  Franciscan winery does (or used to do?) a Riedel tasting at their tasting room. You try their wines, but also try them in a comparison of varying shaped stemware. The difference is apparent.
                                  I don't know that one needs ten different shaped stems, but we use about six different shapes.

                                  1. Reidel Crystal has created a industry with their beautiful glasses( a special type for almost every variety known to man) They are expensive and they really DO bring the aromas out (good and bad). They are delicate and I rarely use them at large parties because inevitably one or two will break through normal use. I've found that I use these great glasses when I'm serving great wines - usually at small dinner parties. For general parties, Barbques, birthday bashes,pool parties, etc I use glass Peasant glasses. If you've been to Paris or Italy you probably have been served wine with theses style glasses at bistros or trattorias along the way . They are approx. 3 1/2 ' tall x 1 3/4 ' round with a sturdy bottom (like a extruded shot glass) - they cost about $2.25 at Ikea or cost plus(or less) - the stout bottom makes for less spillage and if one breaks, no big loss. Guests will like the feel in their hand and if any stay the night these glasses make for serving O.J. or tomato juices. I never use plastic glasses or cups for wine - i bring the sturdy peasant glasses wrapped in cloth napkins for picnicks , pool parties etc. -

                                    1. I'm really the only one in my house that drinks wine so I have a handful of "favorite" stemmed glasses. Some are very light and came from the dollar store. Some are heavier, more substantial in weight and cost. And then I have the plexi-stems because the glass stemware isn't durable with children in the house.

                                      The vessel IS important to me as it is part of the experience. But to the rest of my family (they drink almost nothing but sangria) anything that holds liquid will do just fine ~ They're not cretins, just not the oenophile that I am.

                                      1. From BestWineGlass.com's Wine Glass Guide: Practically speaking, only three or four glass styles are needed for a complete wine service. Much of the variety in the marketplace is due to geographic tradition, design, style or merchandising considerations.

                                        Why bother with all of the other styles? Fashion, aesthetics, taste, passion, life style, personal expression or any other intangible that adds to the quality of life as expressed in food and wine. Or, just for the sheer fun of it all.

                                        1. I believe the answer is yes. The vessel matters. Because, in my experience, much of the perception of wine is subjective. If I'm drinking the wine in a restaurant with good friends, good service and a generally pleasant atmosphere, the exact same wine, at home with screaming toddlers and mac and cheese...it's just not as good. And this subjective influence includes the vessel, the ratings/reviews/shelf talker notes too.

                                          To drink from a little plastic thimble in a store that's pouring but too cheap to provide a minimal actual glass cup underscores the point for me.

                                          1. Our group has done comparative tastings because I was very very skeptical. Prior; I thought that the shape of the bowl would only impact the aroma. To a person, the results showed that the shape of the rim actually impacted how the wine *tasted*. Wines would seem more or less tannic based on different shaped rims.

                                            Again, I was a skeptic and now am a believer.

                                            1. I visited the Von stiehl winery in algoma, Wisconsin yesterday. I was offered wine in both crystal and glass and the wine did taste more focused from the crystal. The crystal stemware was a better vessel (I.e. Thinner rim, more rounded) but I was told that because crystal has a rougher surface than glass and therefore the wine opens up more according to one of the tasting room hosts.