Wine Glass Shootout: Taste the Difference

Wine Glass Shootout: Taste the Difference

Drinking wine is all about the aromas and flavors — a subtle hint of mint is complex flavor in a Bordeaux blend, but perhaps the scent of gasoline could make or break an aged Riesling. And vintage to vintage, wine is going to taste slightly different. It’s impossible to grow and mix the grapes exactly the same year to year, especially with the varied weather we’ve been seeing recently.

If wine can taste different year to year with a little more sunlight or a little more rain, what about the glass you drink the wine out of? Can your wine glass really make wine taste different—for better or worse? As daily drinkers of wine, Jon and I had to find out for ourselves. Forget the marketing hype, let’s taste the wine and see if there really is a difference. Continue reading to see what we found out…

The Setup

  • One bottle of Los Vascos 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon. Los Vascos is an excellent, cheap cabernet that would serve as a nice benchmark. We popped the cork and let the bottle sit open for 10 minutes to breathe.
  • 3 types of wine glasses, with wine further decanted for 6 minutes in each glass: Crate & Barrel stemless glass ($2) Riedel Vinum Bordeaux glass ($24) Eisch Breathable Bordeaux glass ($27)
    • Crate & Barrel glass ($2), the small glass
    • Riedel Vinum Bordeaux glass ($24), the medium glass
    • Eisch Breathable Bordeaux glass ($27), the largest glass
  • 2 wine drinkers: Ted and Jon
  • 1 delicious pizza, from Trader Joe’s of course

Physical observations

  • Crate & Barrel – smallest volume & diameter, with no stem and thickest glass walls
  • Riedel – largest volume and diameter, 4 finger stem (e.g., 4 fingers from base to glass), thinnest glass walls, highest pitched “clink” sound
  • Eisch – medium volume and diameter (just slightly less than Riedel), 6 finger stem, ridge bottom to perhaps prevent sunction-itis (e.g., when your glass sticks to the table because it is slightly wet)

Our observations

  • Jon
    • Crate & Barrel – This one has the thickest walls. It feels sturdy, but cheap. I smell more barnyardy aromas like dirt and mustiness. Not as much fruit as the others.
    • Riedel – Thinnest walls. It fits my mouth and nose just right when gulping. When you put the glass down on granite it makes a night “ching” noise. Spice.
    • Eisch – Solid fruit flavor with some mint. Nice.
  • Ted
    • Crate & Barrel – most constricted, hardest to swirl, heaviest finish, most tannic
    • Riedel – a little less fruit, smooth finish, easier to hold and swirl, smoothest overall
    • Eisch – bright fruit, smooth finish

Our recommendation

Both Jon and I agreed, the Riedel glass was our overall favorite. It was easier to hold, sounded more fancy when clinked, and the wine tasted overall slightly more complex when compared to the Eisch. The Eisch was a close second for taste, but a much farther second in terms of glass aesthetics. As for the Crate & Barrel, you get what you pay for, $2 that is :)

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