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What You Should Know About Merlot Wine Glasses

Karen Frazier
clinking red wine glass

Merlot wine glasses and Cabernet Sauvignon wine glasses are often one and the same, since they are both part of the larger category of Bordeaux style wines and have complementary flavors and aromas that blend well together. Wine glasses are designed for specific types of wine because the shape of the glasses accentuate the flavors and aromas of the type of wine for which they are made.

Design Features of Merlot and Bordeaux Glasses

Merlot glasses (and most all Bordeaux wine glasses for that matter) have the following design features.

Large Bowl Design

Glasses designed for red wines such as Merlot, Bordeaux, and Cabernet Sauvignon have a large bowl design so the wine gets increased exposure to air. When wine is exposed to air, chemical reactions begin to occur, specifically oxidation. Of course, you don't want your wine to become oxidized on a large scale, that's when it turns and the wine goes bad. Large bowls on wine glasses allow the wine to oxidize on a small scale, which is a good thing. When oxygen mixes with wine, it releases more complex flavor and aromatic nuances. This allows the wine to "open up" and the tannins to relax a little bit.

Slightly Tapered Lip

The lip of Merlot glasses is slightly tapered at the top. This concentrates the aromas and allows you to pick up all the different scents of the wine's bouquet. Here's an interesting tidbit about the importance of a tapered lip for Merlot and other red wine glasses. Certain aromas have a certain weight or density. A tapered lip allows the aromas to layer themselves, one on top of the other in the glass. The tapered lip at the top of the glass captures those layers. Here's how the bouquet of the wine is layered within the glass:

  • Flowers and fruit - These aromas are the least dense and rise to the top of the Merlot glass with the tapered lip holding them in.
  • Earth and minerals - Earthy, herbaceous and mineral notes (think, flinty or steely) settle in the middle of the glass. These notes are held in place by the floral and fruity aromas.
  • Alcohol and wood - Woody and alcohol aromas are the heaviest and sit right on top of the wine itself.

Merlot glasses without a tapered lip speed up the evaporation of the bouquet and by the time your nose hits the glass, you won't smell a thing but the alcohol in the wine.

Pouring red wine

Stemmed or Stemless

With red wines, stems are less important than they are with chilled and white wines. That's because with white wines, it's essential you hold the glass by the stem so your hand doesn't warm the wine. However, with reds served at a warmer temperature, this is less essential. Therefore, Merlot wine glasses can be stemmed or stemless.

Finding Merlot Wine Glasses

Look to the following retailers to find Merlot wine glasses.

  • Riedel - This consummate wine glass manufacturer offers wine glasses designed specifically for Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. These are high-end, well-designed wine glasses that work for all Bordeaux style wines. Expect to pay about $30 per glass.
  • Amazon - Be sure to check out the selection of stemless Merlot glasses on Amazon. Plus, they have some of the best prices on the web for Riedel and other high end wine glasses. Prices range from a few dollars a glass to more than $50 per glass.
  • Wine.com - This wine store specializes in wine glasses made by Riedel. While on the site, you can also pick out a great bottle of Merlot. Expect to pay between $50 and $80 per glass.
  • Wine Enthusiast - With multiple designs from manufacturers such as Reidel, Zalto, and Fusion Air, you're sure to find a Merlot glass here that meets your budget and style needs. Glasses start at about $8 per glass and go up from there.
  • Waterford - Waterford's Elegance Merlot glass is designed specifically for Merlot. The glasses are handmade from crystal with an elegant design. The cost is $60 per pair, and engraving is available.

Serving Merlot in Your Wine Glasses

Once you have the proper glass (and you will taste and smell a noticeable difference), you have to be sure to properly serve the wine. Here are some tips:

  • Temperature - If you serve warm Merlot, all you will taste is the alcohol. Be sure to chill your Merlot to between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit or 15 to 18 degrees Celsius.
  • Amount - You want to be able to swirl the Merlot in the glass to further release its bouquet, so you need to have adequate space in the glass. Pour the wine until the glass is a little less than half full. For a very oversized glass you may want to only fill the glass to one-third of its capacity.

Finding Merlot Wine Glasses

The point to drinking wine is to enjoy it. Don't feel as though you need to spend hundreds of dollars on the perfect wine glass for Merlot. Just take a look around and find a set of glasses that have a larger bowl and a tapered lip.

What You Should Know About Merlot Wine Glasses