Did you know that the way a wine tastes can be dramatically altered by the shape of the glass? Nope, me neither. For London Wine Week 2016 we spoke with Fabien Babanini, general manager and wine aficionado at Boyds Grill & Wine Bar, to get a few insights. Fabien, the floor is yours…
What should you look for in a wine glass?
A fine rim – this directs the flow of wine to the correct part of the tongue (which is what dictates how we taste).
A wide bowl is key (the bottom half of the wine glass) – this will enable the taste and aroma of the wine to develop. The bowl should be slightly narrower for white wines as they require less oxygenation and thus a smaller surface area than red wines (now this is science worth knowing). White wine glasses are often more U-shaped and upright than their red counterparts – this also keeps the white wine cooler.
The width of the glass rim – narrow rims suit heavier, bolder, mature wines as they direct the wine to the back of the tongue, but pick a wider rim for lighter, younger, sweeter wines as these should be tasted on the front of the tongue.
Glass type: Oaked Chardonnay glass
Shape: a very large bowl triggers rich, sweet aromas and flavours e.g. vanilla and honey, and leaves heavier, oak flavours to finish, while the wide rim directs wine to the tip and sides of the tongue.
Wine choice: Pouilly-Fuissé Vieilles Vignes, Domaine La Chapelle (Chardonnay), or Meursault, Domaine Patriarche (drier, modern style Chardonnay) both from Burgundy.
Glass type: White Degustazione glass
Shape: a slightly larger bowl allows rich and complex flavours to develop, while the narrower rim directs the wine to the back and sides of the tongue.
Wine choice: 3 Choirs Winchcombe Downs (grape: Schönberger, a cross between Pinot Noir, Chasselas, and Muscat Hamburg) from Gloucestershire.
Glass type: Riesling / Sauvignon Blanc glass
Shape: a wide bowl develops and captures the important aromas in the nose, while the narrower rim directs the wine to the back of the tongue so the rich flavours are tasted first.
Wine choice: Grüner Veltliner, Lössterrassen (dry white) from Austria, or Riesling Bolfan (rich style of Riesling) from Croatia.
Glass type: Pinot Noir glass
Shape: an extra large bowl develops lighter fruity flavours and aromas, leaving oak flavours to finish.
Wine choice: Pinot Noir Bellvale from Victoria, Australia, or Gevrey Chambertin “Vielles Vignes” from Gérard Seguin, Burgundy.
Glass type: Shiraz (Syrah) glass
Shape: a large bowl allows rich and complex aromas to develop, while the narrower rim directs heavier, spicy notes to the back of the tongue.
Wine choice: Chateauneuf Du Pape, Le Calice de Saint-Pierre from Rhône Valley, France (Rhône valley wines are renowned for their white pepper finish), or Chateau Musar (exact grape varieties changes with each vintage, up to 13 grapes) from Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.
Glass type: Cabernet glass
Shape: a rounded bowl enhances intense fruity aromas e.g. blackcurrant, while the slightly wider rim brings out warmth and balance.
Wine choice: Cabernet Sauvignon, Silverado from Napa Valley, California.
Glass type: modern style of Lehmann glasses (highly recommended by master of wine Gerard Basset)
Shape: a large bowl, shorter in length than a flute, means you don’t have to tilt your head back (which causes the bubbles to hit the back of the tongue and impairs the taste), while the narrow rim retains carbonation.
Wine choice: Nyetimber from West Sussex, or Canard Duchene from Champagne, France.
Now all that’s left is to go forth and, in the wise words of Fabien, “drink with moderation but in style”.
Boyds Grill & Wine Bar | 8 Northumberland Avenue, WC2N 5BY
Boyds Grill & Wine Bar serves all wines by the glass and offers a 25 ml measure (£1-3) to try the wine first.