Being in the wine industry, my awareness for how people drink wine has drastically increased. In particular, I’ve noticed the way people hold the stemware- both correctly and incorrectly and how most often, people set themselves up for failure. Meaning the way they are drinking wine is all wrong and preventing them from REALLY being able to taste and experience the wine the way they could/ should be.
The proper way to drink wine:
1.hold the glass by the stem- not the bowl
The anatomy of the wine glass is important. From top to bottom, wine glasses are made of three components.- base, stem, and the bowl. Each and every wine glass- no matter the brand, should be held by the stem (or even the base if you can’t grip the stem). I know what you’re thinking- stemless wine glasses do not have this option. If you have these in your cabinet, I’m sorry to tell you, but you’re being robbed of the experience and each drop of wine. When the taster holds glassware by the bowl versus the stem, the wine is negatively altered- here’s why:
No one likes a dirty looking wine glass, so don’t create one. When you hold the glass by the bowl it leaves fingerprints and clouds the glass. Not only does it look like the glass hasn’t been cleaned, it interferes with seeing the true color of the wine and can create a subtle perceived change in color. This may not seem like a big deal, but for those who are taking the wine experience seriously or learning the wine scene, the taster should be able to keep up with what the rest of the room is talking about and understand how the wine is being described, to the full extent.
When a wine glass is held from the base it changes the temperature of the wine. The best temperature to serve wine ranges from 49-68 degrees depending on the type. The main reason for holding the stem is to prevent body heat from raising the temperature, which changes the flavor of the wine in the glass.
The best temperature for red wine to be served at is between 62-68 degrees.
The best temperature for white wine to be served at is between 49-55 degrees.
There is indeed a technique to swirling wine. The bottom line is stems allow for an easy swirl. If the taster holds the glass from the bowl, it will create more of a mess versus the delicate swirl. There is less control when grasping the bowl and more force goes into the swirl. When held from the stem, a lighter touch is already used allowing for the smaller motions created for swirling. Plus, a better swirl means the aromatic compounds are brought to the upper bowl/ rim for the taster’s nose to detect with more ease.
2.use the correct stemware
This subject has quite a bit of controversy- do you really need a certain wine glass for a specific wine? In short, the answer is yes. Next week we’ll be going over why this is important and how it positively and negatively impacts your drinking experience. Signup for the #WineWednesday series to get the next article sent to your inbox!
3.An Experience for the senses
As mentioned above, when the taster holds a wine glass by the stem, it allows for proper swirling technique and the aromas to be picked up on with more ease. The reason the aromas are important is because drinking wine is more than a tasting experience- meaning you actually use other senses. When you’re experiencing wine, you’re not just drinking it. You’re smelling it and seeing it too, all of which play into the opinion formed for a favorite bottle, grape varietal, region, etc.
It’s easy for experienced wine lovers and those in the business to spot newbies from the way someone holds a glass. Even if you’re unsure about the difference in wines- all the regions, pairings, etc. The entire room doesn’t need to know you’re a beginner and the extent of your knowledge. The saying “fake it until you make it” is popular for a reason, so hold your glass by the stem and attend wine events to learn more!
read next: the secret to having the best wine night