Hi everyone and welcome to the Williams Gap Blog! My name is Bridgette Smith, and I am the Tasting Room Manager at WGV. I am WSET Level 2 Certified, and I am passionate about teaching others about wine, whether we are chatting about what is going on in the cellar, in the vineyard or right there in your glass. I type that, assuming you are drinking Williams Gap wine while checking out our blog. Not too late to pour yourself a glass - the blog will be here when you get back. I was asked to write a monthly wine blog for Williams Gap Vineyard and am really excited to discuss Wine Glass Selection for our first blog post. When I came on board at Williams Gap, one of the first decisions we made for the Tasting Room was our wine glasses. While this is not the most important decision to make, it is something we are passionate about at WGV.
I have done so much research on the perfect wine glass because each glass performs differently than others. While wine glass research might seem a little geeky, this research is important for our Tasting Room because we are providing beautiful Virginia wine right from our vineyard and we want to showcase the quality in the best way possible.
Let’s start by discussing wine aromas. Vapors carry the aromatic compounds from the wine to your nose. A wine's "aroma”, or "nose”, is the smell of the wine in the glass. The aroma can be fruit driven (green/red/black fruit, citrus fruit, stone fruit, tropical fruit, dried/cooked fruit, etc.), floral (acacia, honeysuckle, chamomile, elderflower, geranium, blossom, rose, violet, etc.), herbaceous, herbal, spicy, earthy, or any number of familiar scents depending on the grape variety used and the winemaking process implemented.
When it comes to smelling and tasting wine, I am sure you have heard that the nose is incredibly important – some say more important than your tongue. We are gifted, as humans, to differentiate between thousands of unique scents, while the human tongue is limited to sensing the following categories: salty, sweet, bitter, and sour. With that background, we can now understand that we must use our nose first to truly taste a wine.
So, aromas are important – how do we get the maximum aroma from a wine in a glass? A lot of this has to do with the vessel you choose to taste wine from. There are so many glasses to choose from and you will find that certain wine glass shapes are better for enjoying specific types of wine. When selecting stemware, you have to keep in mind that the glass shape collects aromas and deposits them to both your nose and your mouth, so what shape works best? The first, and maybe most important component is space – you need plenty of space above the wine to collect aromas and transport them.
For whites, I have noticed that a smaller bowl preserves floral aromas, maintains cooler temperatures and expresses more acidity in the wine. So, for those crisp, clean, lighter wines, you may want to stick with a smaller glass. But do not forget to leave room on top of the wine. For fuller bodied whites, like our White Blend, a larger bowl better emphasizes the creamy texture because of the wider mouth.
For reds, I like to alleviate tannic bitterness and mitigate spicy flavors to deliver a smoother tasting wine. In my opinion, red wines tend to taste smoother from a glass with a wider opening. Larger glasses with plenty of room between the wine and your nose/mouth tend to deliver more aromatic compounds. When you have a smaller glass, the alcohol burn is more noticeable since it is closer to your nose. A wide glass diameter offers larger surface area to let the alcohol aromatics evaporate. Higher alcohol wines from warmer climates or spicier wines also tend to be softened due to the flavors hitting your tongue more gradually.
With all of this in mind, while at home, you may have glasses for every type of wine, but that is quite the task for a tasting room. We selected the Riedel Degustazione Wine Glass. This glass offers a universal experience for most wines, and definitely the wines at Williams Gap Vineyard. According to Riedel (and we happen to agree), “this glass is the perfect glass to suit a variety of wines. The glass helps to release the aromas of the wines, emphasize fruit and balance compounds”. When you visit us at Williams Gap Vineyard, take notice of your glass and we encourage to take your time differentiating aromas and flavors. Williams Gap Vineyard’s main focus is producing the best grapes and providing an unmatched setting to enjoy them. We work together to make sure everyone has the best possible experience, whether it’s enjoying a glass of wine, tasting through our wine line up or sharing a bottle and board with friends.
Cheers to you and we hope to see you at Williams Gap Vineyard.