Red and white wine glasses come in a variety of shapes and a variety of materials. Using the correct shape affects the overall experience. The material used also has a bearing on the flavor. Glasses for red wine are usually stemmed although tumblers are becoming increasingly popular. A glass is held by the stem to prevent body heat from transferring to the contents.
The stronger bouquet and flavors of red grape varieties are affected by the shape of the stemware. A normal 4 to 5 ounce serving needs a larger, wider glass than white varieties which are traditionally served in smaller quantities. Reds are swirled around in a larger bowl to allow the liquid to breathe. This results in the release of stronger aromas.
There are a number of styles available, each suited to a particular grape variety. In general, glasses for red wine have a rounder, wider bowl. This allows oxygen in the air to interact chemically with the liquid. The oxidation process changes the taste and bouquet a little, enhancing the experience for the drinker.
Varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon are best served in a Bordeaux glass. This is tall and has a broad bowl. Burgundy stemware is more balloon-shaped and has a larger capacity, allowing the aromas more room to develop. The flavor is enhanced too. Pinot Noir has intense fruity flavors and may be served in a glass which has a rim which turns outwards. The stemware used for Shiraz and syrah has a wide bowl which tapers in substantially.
Lead crystal stemware is considered the ultimate in quality. The color of the contents is enhanced by the refraction of light. Lead crystal is microscopically rougher allowing more efficient breathing. This in turn heightens the sensory experience.
Glasses for red wine can be chosen from a number of materials. At the top end of the price scale is fine glass or lead crystal. Unbreakable polycarbonate and acrylic vessels find favor for barbecues and camping. The larger the glass, the better the color, flavor and aroma.