DeBlog: Does Wine/Beer Glass Really Affect Taste?

I’m skeptical. You go to Target now and see huge displays of Riedel glassware. (you can see them online here.) They’ve got glasses for red and white, of course. But there are also special glasses for pinot noir, and zinfandel, and cabernet.

There are special beer glasses you get when you order certain beers. Sam Adams makes special glasses.

The cynic in me thinks that this is a giant scam designed to make us order more glasses. Or a way to make wine drinking even snobbier than it already is. But does the glass make a difference in the taste?

We’re going to taste the same wine in different glasses and see if we can tell a difference. What say you? Does it make a difference? Do you like your cognac in a cognac glass?

And the real crux of this question: How much of taste and flavor is impacted by aroma?

Share your comments here and we’ll see you live tonight at 10pm.

More from Jason DeRusha
  • Homebrewer

    Temperature and exposure to air affect any alcoholic beverage. Glasses contribute to temperature and air exposure so they can make a difference, either slight or large.
    Aroma definitely affects flavor – just ask any judge in competitive beer or wine contests. One scoring factor in these taste tests is aroma. The shape of the glass affects how much aroma from the beverage reaches your nose. That is why cognac glasses are shaped to force your nose into the glass while you sip.
    Sam Adams glasses are etched inside. This gives more nucleation sites which pull carbonation out of beer faster and therefore affect aroma and flavor.

    Also note that residue from detergents and lip gloss/lipstick have a large affect on not only flavor and aroma, but it also kills carbonation so you get little or no head on a beer. I wash all my beer glasses by hand to avoid this. Make sure all your glasses are perfectly clean for your taste comparison.

  • Kevin Mohr

    I think that to the connoisseur the type of drinking vessel can impart different tastes. But the average Joe Schmoe drinking the 2 buck chuck will not be able to tell.

  • Jay Hammond

    I used to think the same thing but after doing a similar tasting experiment, I discovered the glass DOES make a difference! Some of this, undoubtedly is because glasses for specific beverages are designed to maximize that drink’s characteristics (including aroma and appearance). Some of it is also probably due to how the individual percieves the whole drinking experience. That being said, is a chardonnay different enough from a Sauvignon blanc to require two different glasses? Of that, I am not so sure.

  • Keith

    So a glass can affect the flavor of the drink. But if a certain glass emphasizes a particular characteristic, say sweetness, and you prefer sweetness, then that glass might be suitable for all your drinks.

  • Rick


    Most wine has no sweetness and is bone dry so you would not taste sweet with that glass.

    • Keith

      There are still varying degrees of perceived sweetness in wines, but sweetness was just an example. Pick any flavor or aroma descriptor you like that’s supposed to be enhanced by glassware.

  • Chris

    If the beverage you are consuming is carbonated, the shape of the glass is something you should consider. If you use a glass that has a large opening at the top of the bowl, the drink will go flat over a shorter period of time compared to a glass with a smaller opening- this is why champagne flutes are tall and thin, for example.

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