If you're not experienced with wine, you may wonder why there are so many different sizes and shapes of wine glasses. Does it really matter what type of glass you choose to drink your wine out of? It depends on what you're looking for, but most wine aficionados agree that the glass you use really does have an effect on the taste of the wine you're drinking. Take a look at some of the basic rules for choosing the right wine glass.
Red-wine glasses are easy to spot: they're usually the largest glasses of the bunch. They're taller than other wine glasses, and they have a larger bowl for the liquid. The reason for this is that red wines tend to have the most complex flavors and aromas. The wider bowl allows the ethanol in the wine to evaporate more easily, allowing for a better aroma and a smoother taste.
White-wine glasses are shaped similarly to red-wine glasses, but they're shorter and have a slightly narrower bowl. White wine is typically served slightly chilled, and the shorter glass helps keep the liquid from warming up too quickly. White wines contain more delicate, floral flavors and aromas, and the smaller bowl prevents them from evaporating too quickly.
You're probably used to seeing sparkling wines served in champagne flutes. A champagne flute is similar in height to a white-wine glass, for the same reason—sparkling wines are usually served chilled. However, the bowl is very different. The tall, thin flute bowl leaves only a minimal amount of air space at the top, which helps create more bubbles. Basically, champagne flutes put the fizz in your fizzy wine.
However, if you prefer fewer bubbles, you can actually use a white wine glass for sparkling wines. The beverage will be less bubbly, but with more airflow around the mouth of the glass, you'll actually get more flavor.
Dessert-wine glasses are typically the shortest wine glasses. You should use them for sweet wines with high alcohol content, like port. The short stature and narrow mouth of these glasses prevent the rapid evaporation that can happen with wines that have a high alcohol content.
While these basic wine-glass rules can get you started, there are many variations of wine-glass sizes and shapes out there, and you should experiment a little to find out which ones you like best. Personal taste is as important a factor as anything else, and you may find that an unusual size or shape of glass suits your favorite wine best.
Check out the glasses at companies like Two Drunk Ladies to get started with some fun glasses.