Right from the beginning, it should be understood that there is no such thing as “THE ONE CORRECT GLASS FOR ALL OCCASIONS.” Having said that, it can be said that there are many types of glasses, each of which have their proponents and advocates. And, there are certain characteristics that can add a component of enjoyment to the wine tasting experience.
Properly chilled Champagne is a joy to drink from a well constructed flute. A fine Burgundy, full-bodied Bordeaux, or great American Cabernet (no offense is intended to all of the other fantastic red wine producing areas of the world) when drunk from a Burgundy balloon is an experience not to be missed.
For most purposes, due to the importance of the visual aspect in wine appreciation, the best glasses are clear. Lead crystal glasses (which contain 24% lead oxide) have long been the criteria setter. The disadvantages of lead crystal lie in the extreme brittleness of the glass which means that the glasses are sensitive to temperature changes. In modern kitchens this can mean that putting your glasses in the dishwasher results regularly in broken glasses.
A compromise substitute are the so-called semi-crystal glasses (which the French sometimes call “cristallin”). This material, which contains 9 percent lead oxide, has been selected by the Institut National d’Appellation d’Origine (INAO) in France. The INAO has developed a standard professional testing glass which is used in INAO sponsored tastings. In England this standard is known as ISO (International Standards Organization).
All in all, the real point is that you should use the type of glass that gives you pleasure. If a specific type of glass adds to your enjoyment of a given wine, then use it. If it detracts, then don’t use it. Actually, drinking wine is fun. So follow the old Bacchanalian maxim, “If it feels good, do it.”
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