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Have you been drinking wine the wrong way?

Alysha Harker of Riedel Crystal is pictured with four wine varietals in their appropriate glasses.
Alysha Harker of Riedel Crystal is pictured with four wine varietals in their appropriate glasses.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Steve MacNaull

KELOWNA - Most wine drinkers have wine glasses, and some go further and have white wine and red wine specific glassware, but what if there was a glass specially made for each type of wine?

Wine glasses, made specifically for certain varietals, are hitting the shelves in the Okanagan, and they have wine lovers hooked.

“I was ready to be fairly cynical, it takes a lot to surprise us now in the wine industry, but I’m converted,” Kelowna sommelier Kerry MacNaull says. “It made me rethink using everyday stemware.”

MacNaull took part in a Riedel wine glass comparison tasting, in which a selection of wines were poured into different glasses to showcase how much the taste of a single wine can differ depending solely on the glass.

“The first tasting was a riesling, so it was poured into the riesling glass, a pinot noir glass and a chardonnay glass,” MacNaull. “In the riesling glass it tasted amazing, but in the chardonnay glass it was completely different, and it had a weird, funky smell in the pinot noir glass. The difference was profound.”

According to Alysha Harker, sommelier and regional Riedel Crystal manager it’s all about physics.

“The glassware differs in rim diameter, bowl shape and length of the bowl,” she says. “Think about your tongue, the tip is meant for sweet, the sides meant for bitter and sour, and the back sometimes salty - or more alcohol tasting. The glass is made with that in mind and changes how the wine hits your palate.”

This would seem to explain why when MacNaull bought a friend from out of town her two favourite bottles of Okanagan wine, they tasted completely different from what she remembered.

“I really hyped up the wines, and when we drank them, it was like what happened, I was really disappointed,” MacNaull says. “I didn’t think anything of drinking it out of regular glasses at the time, but now I wonder if I had the right ones, if it would’ve been different."

— This story was updated at 8:45 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017 to correct the spelling of the word palate. Thanks to reader Lynne Stirling for catching the mistake.

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