I have been doing a ton of research on some basic wine topics and I am feeling incredibly overwhelmed by the amount of inconsistent information. I have browsed through the forum in hopes of finding a relevant thread so I apologize if I missed something.
We are wine drinkers, not enthusiasts or connoisseurs. We have learned through experience, friends and the occasional book or article. We are almost done transforming an oversized closet into a “wine cellar”. It is turning out beautiful, with brick panels and unfinished pine. We purchased a dual zone wine fridge and are creating a custom shelf for stemware and accessories.
The 2 questions that are daunting me are
What is a good “all purpose” glass that can be used for whites or reds? I am open to have a set of white wine glasses and red wine glasses, or if easier, a set that is good for both (however, the research I have done makes me think that is unrealistic). I don’t need a glass for every different variety. We taste and try a lot but mostly our reds end up being merlot, pinot noir or zinfandel. I often try new varieties though and as I learn I discover things I like. Whites are usually sauvignon blanc, riesling, moscato (which I do not know if that is considered a white or a sparkling?) and the occasional pinot grigio. Same as above, always trying and learning newness.
-I have heard Bordeaux is a good all-purpose option? Suggestions? Thoughts??
Being that my wine tastes change and vary, what is a good temp for my wine fridge? Currently, based on research, I set my red zone at 61 and my white at 48 (farenheit). Is this adequate? Advice?
As I said, I have researched and the lack of consistent answers makes me so confused. I am not entertaining wine enthusiasts or people that will even really know the difference between a white wine and a red wine glass, but I want to know and I want to offer the best options for my guests and myself.
(1) I like the Riedel Vinum Syrah glasses. They are ideal for zinfandel, syrah, and other reds of that sort. (I believe they’re similarly shaped to Riedel Vinum’s Bordeaux glass.) I also drink pinot noir out of them and have noticed no problems with the bouquet. I also usually drink white wine out of these and don’t really have any problems with that either. It is a HIGHLY versatile glass, somewhat similar to their Bordeaux shape if I recall correctly. I think you could probably benefit from a glass with a smaller bowl for white though.
People also talk a lot about the Riedel Restaurant series, which I think might be cheaper but also very high quality and versatile. Something to look into, though I am unable to recommend it on personal experience.
(2) I store everything from 54-56 degree (my fridge fluctuates in that range). 61 seems a bit high to me and 48 seems needlessly low for whites. I don’t think you need to store reds and whites at different temperatures. They can both be preserved adequately at a more moderate temperature.
I think you’ll find that if you drink whites at a warmer temperature you’ll get more out of them. The nose tends to be closed down more when it’s really cold. People seem to drink white wine so cold if it’s bad–if it’s cold, you don’t have to smell it then and can just chug it. You’re missing a lot that way.
Welcome Heather! We’re all wine drinkers here and you’re definitely an enthusiast if you’re on this board.
My use Schott Zweisel as my everyday stem. I use their Burgundy stem for reds cuz I drink mostly Pinot and use their “Top Ten” for more full bodies reds and whites including Champagne. These can all be found for less than $10/stem. I also have Reidel Vinums in Bordeaux & Chard but rarely use them cuz I’m lazy and they’re fragile. Also have some SZ champagne stems but usually use the “top ten” stems for bubbles. A Bordeaux type stem will work fine for both reds and whites. That’s what I would go with if you just want one type of stemware.
The exact temp doesn’t matter as much as preventing wide temp fluctuations. Most folks recommend 55-60 degrees. My storage locker is at 58 and so is my home cabinet. If you’re not storing wines for years, I wouldn’t sweat the exact temp. Lower temp ages wine slower and vice versa. I keep all my wines at that temp. If I wanna chill whites or Champagne more, I just throw it in the fridge.
You say “We are wine drinkers, not enthusiasts or connoisseurs.” Sounds like you should wait before buying expensive stemware, IMO you won’t notice much difference and after you have more experience you will get a much better idea of what works for you. It’s almost impossible to figure out what works for you without trying a lot of wines and glasses, so I’d recommend just getting something cheap and reasonable for staters.
I agree with Peter on the glasses. Pick something affordable and begin there. Over time you may get curious and pick up a variety specific glass for something you really enjoy (pinot glasses, for example, are quite different in shape than syrah or bordeaux). I use the Reidel vinum bordeaux glasses the vast majority of time. I understand your frustration on the glasses though, most everyone will have a different opinion. The only one that matters is yours though.
Spencer is correct on temperature. Something in the mid 50’s will work just fine for both reds and whites. You can go warmer on reds if you are certain you will not hold them for more than a few years, but it is safer to simply pull the bottle out and let it warm a bit before you drink it.
I’ve got stems for a bunch of varietals, but I use my Schott Zweisel for about 75% of my wines, including Cab and Bordeaux blends, as I like the emphasized nose that a bigger bowl and smaller opening provides. Jen uses it even more than I do, and doesn’t use it only when we’re using our Zalto Champagne flutes (the only flute I’ll use, as it’s not a skinny bowl)
Okay… Any glass is fine, even if it used to be used for jelly. I like restaurant style water glasses, which are cheap and very similiar to the tasting glasses we used in Bordeaux. You don’t need a stem, you just need a vessel that won’t leak. Something round is good, as it allows the fun of swirling to release some volatile compounds. As far as serving temp, Reds should never be so warm that the alc. burns the nose; usually room temp. is fine. Temp on whites depends on the acidity and sweetness levels, as well as what you want. I had and old Lafon Meursault at nearly room temp and it was delightful. A crisp icewine? Start out cold and let it warm in the mouth. Those little wine fridges are nice but not neede unless you want to age a wine for years. Never had one, but then I had a cellar for a while. Now I just drink a lot of Spanish reds or look around for off vintage (early maturing) wines… I don’t want a monster, I want a symphony.
Hey, NEVER be overwhelmed…start with an area that you love. Mine was Beaujolais back in the 1980’s. I learned everything I could about them, and to this day can taste a St.Amour from A Moulin a Vent blind without any trouble.
IMO, a great “cheap” glass set is Riedel’s O series. They come in 8-packs (4 reds and 4 whites). And as everyone said, mid-50s is good for reds and whites. If you want a white chilled, throw it in the fridge the night before.
I disagree that any glass works, but I don’t go as far as Riedel’s marketing in thinking you need a different glass for every variety of wine.
First and foremost, you want a glass with a large bowl which allows swirling of the wine, which is key to releasing and concentrating the aromas. The ideal shape of the bowl varies if you’re into lighter, more delicate reds or full-bodied, higher alcohol reds, but start with one decent glass for whatever you drink the most of.
I love the O-stye stems for picnics and events where the glass is easily toppled or you need a compact glass for packing. For everyday use, no, because having your hand on the bowl (instead of on the stem) will warm the wine too quickly.
Larry, I have to disagree with your disagreement, with humor.
I never have bought the “hand warms the glass” idea, unless you are not drinking fast enough. I usually have to use one hand on the knife, the other on a fork, so it is rare that I have much contact with the glass enough to change its temperature. Second, I often drink several different wines at a time (wines by the glass at restaurants) so as to make the food/wine combinations more enjoyable. Stems make the glasses top heavy and when you are navigating your hand on a crowded table it tends to be an unneeded hazard. The standard tasting glass, usually a “water” glass in most restaurant supply houses is the same thing I used when determining often very expensive purchases. Every size, from a champagne flute to a bowl on a burgundy globe so big you can stick your head in has its use. But if you are starting out? The tasting glass, even though they don’t come with Fred Flinstone chasing Dino around the rim (A fine glass purchased in a gas station long ago). The other part was when you have a gathering of twenty or so beserkers drinking heavily, you don’t want to worry about broken glasses… I used to go through cases (48) of stemmed water glasses over the years.
You live in Livermore Valley? I remember going to Wente in the late 70’s, a friend working on lasers down the road. What a beautiful place!
One idea for glassware might be to check out Costco. I bought a box of 18 Bordeaux sized glasses for 19.99 which I use for larger parties and tastings where we need lots of glasses. They are not as thin-walled or elegant as the Riedels and Spiegelaus which we use more often, but they are big enough to swirl, dishwasher-safe and cheap enough to not worry about.
I’ll have to agree with Larry here. I’d never drink wine in a water glass, not only because of the stem, but also because water glasses are very heavy, thick glass that is not suitable for drinking anything, not even water, actually. It’s easy enough to buy some cheap but correct wine glasses, thin enough. I use “one size fits all” Spiegelau, typical ones for white and larger ones for red. Only thing I noticed with time/experience isn’t that I appreciate a specific glass with a specific wine, but that I tend to like bigger and bigger glasses.
In any case I’m sure the basic Spiegelau glasses are available in the $5-10 range and that’s good yet cheap enough for everyday use.
BTW re: stemless, temperature is one issue, whirling is another, putting fingerprints everywhere yet another. I won’t say it’s impossible to enjoy wine in stemless glasses, but stems are like stick shift, you might as well learn to do it properly from the start, You can always downgrade later.
You know, every time I post that, someone disagrees with me. Your point about drinking with dinner is valid. It’s a bigger problem when you’re standing around at a party, talking to people, then your glass is always in hand. Maybe I’m sensitive to wine temperature, but I find the effect so dramatic I’m amazed it even gets debated. anyway… Drink faster?
You live in Livermore Valley? I remember going to Wente in the late 70’s, a friend working on lasers down the road. What a beautiful place!
Yep, love it here
I’ll relate a story which really sold me on the value of good glasses. It sometime probably mid/late '90s, my wife (then girlfriend) and I had just had a Ridge Geyserville which was one of our best wine experiences ever. A couple weeks later we were at a hotel in Kentucky (visiting Mammoth Cave NP) and found a pretty nice wine shop, which happened to have that same Ridge at a good price. We brought it back to the room and drank out of the supplied water glasses, and it was not remotely the same wine. I know bottle variation could explain it, but the wine didn’t seem damaged, just not the same. Now we pack glasses along whenever we travel (usually stemless, since they’re easier to pack/less fragile).
Ha! Very Funny. most of the Ridge wines I have had, I had at Ridge. Great winding drive high enough that my ears popped. You can look down from the winery and actually see the San Andreas fault! You may be right, and the “attack” of californian reds, up front and in your face certainly would benefit from a globe glass. The man was a great winemaker when I visited I think in 96. I wouldn’t chalk it up to bottle variation, but from a science point of view its pretty simple to just put a few glasses on the table and try each type. The “spanish mountian juice” I am playing with has zip of a nose right now so I don’t even think I could get a bouquet even if the glass could hold several goldfish.
Some of myreds are cooled at 52 degrees it’s amazing how much slower wines age by a few degrees cooler a recent '02 Berlinger private reserve was thought to be an '07 in a blind tasting. My other cooler is around 58-60 degrees
I serve reds at 52 degrees as well and whites usually around 45. As for wine glasses.
I would buy an all purpose tulip glass for both whites and reds. Stozzel makes a white wine glass that I love and can get a 6-pack of at TJ Maxx for $14.99. That’s not to say that I don’t have more glasses…but that’s a good “all-purpose” glass. You should also invest in some nice Burgundy glasses. I like the basic Spieglau Pinot Noir glass for both reds (Pinot, Barolo, and Gamay) and whites like (Chardonnay, White Rhones, and other “big” Whites)
1] My tasting group formed in 1988 has experimented with many different wine glasses to find the one that fits our tastings which can be any white or red varietal. Over the years, one glass has stood out, its the Riedel Overature red glass. Theyre not expensive, not real fragile and easy to clean and store. Also, 6 can be transported in a Riedel carrying case, highly recommended and by removing the velcro separators, one can insert plastic bubble to protect the stems.
2] As you know, storage and drinking temperatures are not the same. I store most wines at or below 55 degrees. I drink most wines at room temp [66 degrees] or just below. Obviously, some wines like Champagne, most whites and dessert wines, I drink much colder. In some instances, I open a wine and find it is too cold and the flavors are muted. In those cases, I allow it to warm up and then determine the appropriate serving temp for future times.