Although using a different glass probably will not ruin the taste of a drink, it can dampen the flavour compared to if it was served in the proper glass. Through various testing and experiments, it has been found that taste is affected by a variety of conditions such as temperature and even the way you tilt your head as you drink. However, much of our taste is rooted in our sense of smell, and the right glass can help to collect the aromas of a drink.

Luckily, experts from Cumbria Crystal have shared how each different type of glass is designed to enhance your drinking experience.

Red Wine:

Red wine glasses generally have larger bowls in order to help highlight and open up the aromas of the wine. The larger bowl allows the flavours to ‘breathe’ by allowing air into the glass, and lessens the chance of spillages when swirling (which helps to release the wine’s bouquet).

Additionally, the wide rim provides more air exposure to help tannins in the wine break down, as this will improve the smell. Tannins also help to provide the wine with texture and structure, making it more complex. There are glasses available that are designed for specific kinds of red wine, such as Pinot Noir.

White Wine:

White wine glasses have shorter bowls, so that the drinker can bring it closer to their nose if it is subtly aromatic.  wines do not require as much aeration as red wines, and glasses are often more tapered or narrow to prevent too much oxygen from entering the glass and maintain the temperature.

However, due to the diversity of white wines there are a few varieties that benefit from having a larger bowl, such as Chardonnay, so that you are able to taste the intensity of the flavours properly.

Tumbler Glass:

Tumbler glasses may also be known as lowball or old-fashioned glasses, and are used for anything whiskey based. This glass has a thick bottom to withstand the muddling of fruits and spices, and is designed to draw warmth from your hand into the glass. Its wide rim and straight walls collect fumes in the air just above the drink, resulting in the first few sips tasting stronger than the spirit actually is.

Martini Glass:

Martini glasses are designed to have a long stem so that your body heat does not warm up the drink, as drinks served in this glass usually do not contain any ice. It has an inverted cone-shaped bowl that enables alcoholic vapour and other fragrant components to escape across the surface area of the drink. This results in the drink having far less of the ‘burn’ that you may feel with other beverages, making the taste softer and more botanical.

Champagne Flute

Champagne flutes are shaped in a way that is supposed to ensure that the bubbles in the drink will last as long as possible. The bead at the bottom of the glass is used to attempt to give the bubbles a starting point. The long and slim design of the flute results in a small surface area, which results in the bubbles in the drink having less time to oxidise.

Sparkling wines that should be served cool are best served in this type of glass, as the long stem enables the drinker to hold their glass without transferring their body heat to the wine.

Beer Glasses

Beer, unlike wine, does not need aeration. If carbonation is lost, the beer can begin to taste flat, which can be avoided by using a glass with a narrower rim. There are several different kinds of beer glasses that can be used for specific types of beer:

  • Pilsner glass – these are used to serve light beers and their shape helps to highlight the aroma of the drink.
  • Stout glass – these are best for serving IPA and stout, as the wide mouth of the glass lets the flavours and aromas build.
  • Stemmed glass – these are used for sour beers or ales, and old ales. They help to retain the froth and acidity of the drink, and the stem prevents the heat of the drinker’s hand from warming up the beer.
  • Beer mug – the wide rim enables the beer to be drunk quickly before it becomes flat, as the wideness of the rim makes the froth evaporate faster. The thick walls of the glass help to keep the drink cold, and the handle also prevents the drinker’s hand from warming up the drink.

Gin Glass

The rounded, balloon shaped bowl of the glass helps to collect the aromas of the gin, which helps to enhance its flavour. The glasses are often spacious to fit a range of garnishes and a lot of ice, as this keeps the drink colder for longer.

Highball Glass

This type of glass is narrow and circular, with straight walls. A highball glass is commonly used to serve cocktails that are served with carbonated mixers, as the shape helps the bubbles to rise slowly and this preserves the carbonation to keep the drink sparkling.

They may also be used for cocktails that contain crushed ice or require stirring, as they stop the alcohol from settling at the bottom of the glass. The ice can stay cooler for longer due to the shape of highball glasses, which slows down the dilution of the drink caused by the ice.

Additionally, long-sided glasses can trick the drinker’s brain into experiencing higher levels of sourness, despite the amount that may be in the cocktail. Drinks in these glasses are garnished with lemon or lime as their sharpness is amplified.

However, if you find that you perhaps do not have the ‘correct’ glasses listed above, you should consider investing in a high quality set of tumblers or wine glasses that can be versatilely used instead. Alternatively, you could also purchase a decanter to amplify the taste and aromas of drinks before serving them, as these can be used for certain spirits as well as wine. Although you can serve your drink in any glass of your choosing, do be aware that the incorrect vessel may dampen the flavours and overall experience.