Stay Glassy, New York City: Yes, Your Wine Glass Matters


The Styrofoam ban in New York City has gone into effect. Polystyrene foam is not recyclable; and so the Mayor has declared its use illegal. This is good news not only for the environment, but for wine drinkers as well.

Surely the number of times you’ve been served wine in a Styrofoam cup is negligible, but at the very least, in New York City, the possibility has ceased to exist. You may want to breathe a sigh of relief. Still, there are plenty of subpar drinking vessels that could end up cradling your wine. What sort of hard plastic wine glass will you find at the next art show opening you attend? Perish the thought, some would say. Here’s why:

Earlier this year Japanese scientists developed a so-called ‘sniffer-camera’. It creates a visualization of the ethanol vapor emanating from a glass of wine. This vapor is responsible for your olfactory wine experience. The visualizations change dramatically from glass to glass.Three types of glasses were tested: a traditional wine glass, a cocktail glass, and a straight glass. The visualizations changed dramatically based on the glass used.

The Japanese study did not touch upon glass quality. There are questions of glass type, translucence, thickness, and stem length. These go hand in hand with glass shape.
Overall, the Japanese study has shown that glasses matter. Thus there will be some disagreement about wine and glass pairings. Take the Champagne flute; this was the accepted bubbly receptacle for decades. Dinner party hosts everywhere are overcome with embarrassment when they’re missing a few flutes for a toast. (You’ll have to break out the emergency plastic, heaven forefend.) These days, wine brass counsels against the flute because it chokes off the aromas and holds the liquid too tightly in the glass. Indeed, flutes are festive – but they’re asphyxiating your wine.

Should we assume that all of this proves the existence of a perfect wine glass? I don’t believe so. It demonstrates the fact that there is a perfect wine glass for each and every wine drinker. Of course there will be a majority consensus on the best glasses, but outliers can feel confident that their proclivity for drinking wine from a Styrofoam cup is a very real matter of personal preference. But please, keep your peanuts out of the wine.

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