Believe it or not, the shape of your wine glass can affect the flavor of the wine. The glass shape is especially important when you are serving red wine.
Best Glass for Red Wine
You may have heard about the necessity of letting a red wine "breathe." This refers to the way the wine interacts with the air. Often, allowing the wine to oxidize slightly changes its flavor for the better.
Ideally, it's a good idea to serve red wine in a glass that specially designed to give it maximum exposure to the air. This is where balloon glasses come in. These large, stemmed designs offer plenty of room for the wine to spread out and maximize the surface area that is exposed to the air. They get their name from the way their shape resembles a rubber balloon.
Choosing Balloon Glasses
Balloon glasses are available at a variety of price points. You can find inexpensive options for less than two or three dollars apiece, and you'll also see expensive lead crystal designs for more than $50 each. Your budget may dictate which red wine glass you select, but these are some of the other factors you should consider:
- Shape - In order to be considered a true "balloon," the glass must have a very round shape with a wide mouth.
- Size - Ideally, look for a red wine glass that can hold between 12 ounces and 14 ounces of wine. Although you won't fill the glass to the top, this is the best size to give the wine maximum air exposure.
- Edge - High quality glassware and crystal experts look for glasses with very fine edges or rims.
- Stem - A stem is an important part of a balloon glass because it prevents the warmth of your hand from interfering with the temperature of the wine.
- Clarity - Low quality glassware may have streaks or bubbles embedded in the glass. In addition, it may be too thick to allow you to observe the wine through the side of the balloon. Look for glasses that are very clear.
- Style - Although it has nothing to do with the functionality of a balloon glass, look for a design that you really love. Some of the most beautiful options include hand-cut crystal or artisan-made blown glass.
Where to Shop
If you're in the market for a new set of balloon glasses, consider some of the following shopping options:
- Your local department store may offer a variety of balloon glasses in the housewares department. This is a good choice if you're including wine glasses in your wedding registry or want to find a nice set at a reasonable price.
- Wine specialty shops and local vineyards often feature balloon glasses made by local artists. If you're looking for a unique design, these would be good places to shop.
- Antique stores also sometimes sell beautiful wine glasses. Since the balloon design hasn't changed very much in recent years, this could be a good way to find a classic style you'll really love.
- A factory outlet store is a great option if you want high-end wine glasses at lower prices. Be sure to check the quality of the glass, since outlets sometimes sell lower-quality factory seconds.
- Online housewares stores like Williams Sonoma or Crate and Barrel are also great choices for good quality wine glasses.
Caring for Your Balloon Glasses
Most experts recommend that you wash your wine glasses by hand. This is because your dishwasher may etch the glasses and affect their clarity. Additionally, some dishwasher detergents leave a film on glasses, and this can affect the flavor of the wine.
To hand wash your glasses, fill your sink with warm water and a little mild dish soap. Place a towel in the bottom of the sink, and wash the glasses one at a time. Dry them immediately to prevent water spots.
When cared for properly, you balloon glasses will be the perfect way to serve red wine for years to come.