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ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

As I am shopping for a new crystal wineglass set, I notice that the differences between some glasses are less than half an inch. Am I the only one who thinks it a bit strange to own both? Or will that 3/8 of an inch ruin one wine while making the other shine?

—Steven, Milwaukee

Dear Steven,

I checked with wineglass maker Maximilian Riedel to get his explanation of the subtle differences between glasses, and here's what he says:

"It is true that some shapes for specific grape varietals vary only by the height of the glass, and the bowl shape is the same. Yes, the height does make a difference between these glasses. For example, a Riedel Vinum Extreme Pinot Noir glass stands 9 5/8 inches high, and the Vinum Extreme Chardonnay stays 8 7/8 inches tall. The bowl shape is the same, but due to the aromatic characteristics of Pinot Noir, it does not show well in the shorter glass. Purchase one of each and try this for yourself."

Some aspects of taste are still mysterious, and the effect of glass shape on flavor perception is one of them. I recommend that you start with a small set of all-purpose glasses and expand your glassware collection from there, based on what kind of wines you drink the most. And by all means, try them for yourself.

—Dr. Vinny

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