Does Delivery Matter?
When it comes to enjoying a fine wine, what I have found is that a fine wine glass can make all the difference in ones enjoyment of a wine experience.
A few weeks back, I was introduced to a new App for my Iphone4 called “WineSnob”. It provides me the opportunity to record, comment and review the wines I have experienced. I know, I know, this will likely become the first test in the determination of ones need for the 12-step program but as someone that enjoys the bountiful fruits of the nature, I thought the App was a great way to keep a record and share the various wines that I have enjoyed. The ability to quickly scan my phone for a selection of great wines that I have already tasted helps with the decision making process when standing before the array of wines in the local LCBO (Ontario Government’s monopoly on fun).
Anyway, back to the point of this blog. Not long after I was tracking my wines, I was out for a nice dinner at one of Toronto’s many fine dining restaurants. Accompanying the dinner, we had decided upon a very nice Pinot Noir from Oregon in the United States. The wine was deliciously light yet with a beautiful medley of fruits that was a wonderful accompaniment to a great meal. I quickly logged it into my phone as a “4” and something to look for again. To make a long blog a little shorter, it was not long afterwards I found the wine again in the Vintages section of a larger LCBO that specializes in wine. After picking up a bottle we prepared ourselves a delicious home-cooked meal and again sat down to enjoy this lovely wine. But, as dinner was on the balcony the fine crystal was left inside. After pouring the nectar into a plastic wine glass and toasting the dinner, my enthusiasm quickly turned to disappointment as I was sure the wine was off. After thinking about it, I quickly went inside and pour some wine into a fine crystal wine glass and the aromoas and flavours that I had been hoping for quickly returned.
It made me think, could what we drink our wine in really alter the taste of the wine so significantly?
I decided to do some research on the subject and found some interesting facts … which is the point of this blog.
While exploring the wine glass sites on the internet, it did not take long before I landed upon the Riedel website. Riedel is Austrian for “Master Glassmaker” and is a family business that has been making glassware since 1678. I recall attending a Wine Expedition a few years ago, where the father-son team, Georg and Maximilian Riedel were showcased. In their words… “Wine may be God’s Gift that gardens the human heart but it is the vessel that heartens the eye, hand, nose and palate”. I recall that in the presentation, Maximilian stated that “size and shape does matter”; proving all those women right. The lips are the most sensitive part of the mouth and the messenger that delivers a wine from the glass to the palate is key. According to Maximilian, ” the rim is also a factor, as a rolled rim will impact the wine’s natural flow and, when stopped, could cause an uncontrolled spill onto your tongue”.
When tasting wine, we have an appreciation of its heritage, origin, wine-making technique and the monetary investment through a variety of sensory experiences. My research led me to the conclusion that these experiences begin at initial perception and follows through to the intoxicating aroma unleashed by each swirl as it releases individual flavours. When combined, these flavours can affect our taste based on acidity, sweetness or bitterness. It is this “mouth-feel” on our palates that heightens our tasting adventure.
As Riedel will tell you… “Respect the Tool”.
So, back to my own experience. Taking the wine that I had previously logged as being a “4”, I poured the wine into a plastic patio wine glass, a glass tumbler, a “walmart” special wine glass and a fine crystal stemware. Is it scientific? Not really, but it provided me the opportunity to test the theory that “its all in the delivery”. Needless to say, the differences in the wine was remarkable. The same wine sipped from the plastic wine glass (that smothered the wine) would have led to a 2 rating while the fine crystal stemware which released every essence of the wine returned it to the rating of 4.
There is lots of varieties of specific stemware on the market. Based on my research, a few key points to remember… thinner is better and any big bowled wine glass will help release the bouquet of full bodied red wines such as a burgundy or pinot; smaller tulip-shaped glasses for a white wine because it needs less aerating and narrow champagne flutes to prolong bubbles of sparkling wines. A combination of the proper aperture and gentle rim will also enhance your wine experience. There are many websites out there to help you buy the right glasses, in the end, budget and storage space will often be a deciding factor in the selection of your glasses. You can have a look at these helpful website if you are interested in reading more … http://www.bestwineglass.com/pages/shapes___tastes/29.php or http://www.thewinedoctor.com/advisory/openserveglasses.shtml
All in all, what I have taken away from my research is that if you wish to truly savor the multiple sensory experiences that wine can give you, then the delivery is just as important as the liquid treasure within. I am guessing there are many wannabe Sommelier’s out there who can explain the benefits of decanting, breathing and tempurature…but for now, at least I know that to enjoy a fine wine, take the time to use your finest stemware as it really is “all in the delivery”.