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.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
As a recent wine enthusiast, I was curious why white wine goblets tend to be smaller than red wine goblets, especially since whites are served colder and would necessarily tend to have their aromas more muted. Is it more fashion, or is there function? Thanks!
—Bruce, Boca Raton, Fla.
My guess is that originally, the differences in size between glasses meant for red and white wines was due to esthetics. People like having the variety on the table.
A more scientific reason may have to do with temperature control. Smaller glasses allow white wine to stay chilled longer. Temperature is very important in serving wine; chilling a wine will tone down its aromas, thin out the textures and accentuate any acids or tannins. Warming up a wine will soften it, exaggerate its aromas, and make it fatter and rounder. That's why a big, buttery, oaky Chardonnay tastes better with a significant chill on it.
On most occasions, I use the same type of glass for both red and white wines. It's a size and shape I find comfortable, and I prefer the consistency it provides in evaluating wines.
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