Whether you are a wine expert, with many bottles on your CV, or someone who is just starting out in this amazing world, there is one rule on how to hold a wine glass that we should all know.
But above all, we should all know why the wine glass is held in a certain way. Let us see together the reasons for a gesture, that of holding the goblet by the stem, which makes tasting so fascinating.
How do you hold a wine glass?
The wine glass should be held by the stem, or base, with three fingers.
Why is the wine held from the base?
Only by holding it from the base can one observe the colour of the wine and smell its aromas, avoiding olfactory interference and without warming it.
Of course, it is also a question of bon ton, due to the elegance that our culture assigns to this gesture.
These principles also apply to stemless glasses, which should be held at the base, as far from the rim as possible.
From a cultural point of view, why should the wine glass be held by the stem?
The basic assumption is that the liquid inside the glass is precious and deserves our attention, to be fully understood.
There is indeed a difference between drinking and tasting, and in this opposition is condensed the distance between wine as nourishment of the body and the spirit, if you like between wine as it was understood in the peasant society of our grandparents and contemporary tasting.
When was the wine glass born?
The first funnel-shaped glasses, equipped with a small stem, appeared in the Middle Ages thanks to the Venetian art of blown glass, but it was during the 19th century, with the spread of crystal and the love of elegant shapes typical of Art Nouveau, that the goblet we know today developed.
Why is it important to use the right glass for each type of wine?
The shape of the tasting glass is crucial to make the wine express itself at its best. The stem is fundamental for assessing colour and aromas without interfering, as we have seen, the glass has a belly shape and narrows upwards to concentrate the aromas towards the nose and not disperse them. The shape and size of the goblet enhance the characteristics of each type of wine: smaller for the young and delicate ones (to avoid the dispersion of aromas), larger for the more evolved ones (to allow good oxygenation and the perfect release of the complex perfumes).
So why is Champagne traditionally served in a cup?
The goblet is used for sweet aromatic sparkling wines (whose exuberant bouquet is not penalised by the wide opening). And Champagne was born precisely as a sweet wine: to serve it in the cup is still not technically correct, because the bubbles and aromas dissipate quickly, but it has great appeal, because the gesture and the form have sedimented the very idea of extreme elegance that characterises Champagne.
Holding the wine glass by the stem: an absolute rule?
Absolute is not of this world. If this gesture is recommended for the reasons we have explained above, especially in non-professional tasting contexts, live the frankness of those who like to hold it by the stem and do not mind 'copied' tricks. Especially if they ignore its meaning!
In terms of rejecting any form of standardisation, a lesson comes to us from Josko Gravner, a great winemaker from Friuli, who devised a goblet glass with two recesses to ensure its grip and give the sensation of holding the wine in the hand.
The explanation of the reasons for this glass is a small step of poetry:
The idea of creating a cup-shaped glass first came to me in 2000 when I went to the Caucasus. During that trip, organised to see the amphorae they were making for my winery, I visited a monastery in the hills of Tbilisi. On that occasion, the monks not only welcomed me with religious songs, but also served me their wine in terracotta cups. That gesture stayed with me, drinking Wine in a cup without a stem is very different from drinking from a glass, I do not want to be misunderstood, but the gesture that the cup imposes on you towards the Wine is more intimate, more respectful...more humble.