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Wine 101 - The Importance of Shape to Wine Appreciation


The shape of the glass does affect the aroma and taste of wine...

This post originally was to be a product review of the Wine Enthusiast Fusion Whirl Chardonnay wine glasses. When I went to post my review with a link to the product, I discovered that I could not locate these wine glasses on the site.

It's possible this design has been discontinued. It's possible this is a new product line sent out for evaluation. I don't know. My contact who originally sent me the stemware for review has moved on to another company. My search for the "Fusion Whirl Chardonnay" glasses has been fruitless.

After some thought, I have decided to post my opinion on the glasses I received and to compare them with other glasses I have at home. I've decided to do this because these glasses re-emphasized to me the importance of choosing the proper stemware for the enjoyment of wine.

Wine Enthusiast Fusion Whirl Chardonnay Glass.

Product Review: Wine Enthusiast Fusion Whirl Chardonnay Glasses

Wine glasses, my cupboard is over-flowing with a variety of stemware in different shapes and sizes. Even so, my favorite glasses for drinking wine have been my go to Riedel Vivant glasses. Recently, my Riedel glasses have been disappearing. Admittedly one of the losses was my fault - it was due to an unfortunate encounter with the refrigerator ice dispenser - Riedel glasses are thin and delicate.

At last check, I have only one of my favorite wine glasses left. When I was asked to review some new wine glasses I quickly accepted.

The wine glasses I received were a set of four Wine Enthusiast Fusion Whirl Chardonnay glasses (sorry, no link and no price at posting). They arrived intact, adequately protected by the plain cardboard packaging. I was assured that they are durable and less likely to shatter than my favored Riedel glasses. Unpacking the glasses I was initially taken aback by the shape of the stemware. My first impression was not positive. "Not my style" was my first thought.

Do as I say, not as I do.

After living with these glasses and using them to drink many bottles of white wine, I have reconsidered. These glasses have become my preferred white wine stemware. What changed my mind? I actually did what I advise other people to do. I taste tested a wine with the Fusion Whirl glass side by side with a variety of other glasses. I took my own advice and learned from the experience. The shape of the glass does affect the aroma and taste of wine.

Stemware Taste Test Comparison

For this taste test comparison I selected a New Zealand wine, the
Mud House 2011 Sauvignon Blanc.

Screw cap closure, 13% ABV.
This wine sample was provided by Pasternak wine imports.

Mud House Wine, 22 Liverpool St, Riverlands Estate, Blenheim
PO Box 1034, Blenheim 7242, Marlborough, New Zealand

My selection of glassware for this test included:

1. Wine Enthusiast Fusion Chardonnay wine glass.
2. Riedel Vivant Red wine glass.
3. Riedel White wine glass.
4. A traditional Crystal white wine glass.
5. A standard Rocks glass.
See photo below.

Five glasses, five different expressions of the same wine.

Taste Test - Mud House 2011 Sauvignon Blanc:

  • 1. Wine Enthusiast Fusion Whirl Chardonnay Glass:
Notes: Distinct grapefruit nose with flavor of grapefruit peel and tart finish.Lively, pleasing flavors and bright acidity mid-palate.A classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc aroma and flavor profile.

  • 2. Riedel Vivant Red Wine Glass:
Notes: Soft citrus nose, gentle citrus palate.
Good, but not as interesting as #1, acid on tip of tongue.

  • 3. Riedel White Wine/Event Glass:

Notes: Tangerine skin nose, medium citrus palate and tart finish.
Some evergreen on nose and palate. Did not like.

  • 4. Traditional Crystal Wine Glass:
Notes: Soft citrus nose, gentle citrus palate, some toast on nose, easy drinking.
Not as good as #1.

  • 5. Rocks Glass:
Notes: Orange blossom nose, soft citrus, wine was warm.
Honey on nose, warm, soft, not bad but #1 better.

Results of the Taste Test:

These tasting notes were not what I expected. I was genuinely surprised how the aromas and flavors varied by glass size and shape.
  • Winner: The Wine Enthusiast Fusion Whirl glass delivered a more focused expression of the wine and was the one I most appreciated. 
  • The larger, more open Riedel Vivant Red delivered a softer tasting experience, not bad, just softer. 
  • Loser: Surprisingly, the smaller Riedel White glass exhibited qualities in the wine I did not appreciate. A little troubling to me because this is a standard wine glass used at many tasting events I attend. 
  • Of course, the warm wine in the standard Rocks glass emphasized why you should only drink wine from a real wine glass. Keep the Rocks glass for drinking Bourbon on the rocks.

As I've been saying to others for many years, the shape of the wine glass matters to the appreciation and enjoyment of wine. I finally proved it to myself. I should also mention that the style of the Fusion Whirl Chardonnay glass no longer bothers me. I now know how effective the shape of that style is at focusing my white wine experience. Recommended if you can find them.


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