There are many different types of glassware and they are all designed for the type of drink that is to go in them. A brandy glass has a large bowl with a narrow top and a short stem and a base. The large bowl to help with evaporation, the narrow head to trap aromas, and the round bottom for cupping in the hand to warm the drink. So a round bottom needs a stem, but why do wine glasses have stems.
A wine glass also has a longer stem than a brandy glass. But do they have stems for the same reasons as a brandy glass?
Why Do Wine Glasses Have Stems?
A wine glass has a stem firstly so we can hold the glass by the stem. This stops the heat from our hands warming the wine, the opposite to a brandy glass which is why the stem is longer. Secondly the stem makes it easy to to rotate the glass in our hand. This allows the wine to aerate and release its aromas for. Thirdly to keep the bowl crystal clear and avoid smudges from our hands.
A stem on a wine glass helps us to enjoy the wine at its best.
Have Wine Glasses Always Had Stems?
If we go back in time then we will find that glass was not used for any drinking vessels. Also there were no stems either.
Any drink including wine were drunk out of cups and jugs made from a variety of material. Metal, wood, clay and even animal horns were fashioned to hold the drinks of the day.
The Antioch Chalice is said to date back to the sixth century, and this did have a stem, although a very short one.
However when it comes to glass drinking vessels, it is said to have originated in Egyptian times, which is quite a long time ago.
But the shape of the stemmed wine glass came a little later. The original stemmed glass by all accounts comes from Venice around the 1400’s. The venetians were ahead of the game when it came to glass blowing and discovered Cristallo glass.
They also fashioned the stemmed wine glass, which is said to be based on the religious chalice. Whether they had the three points in mind when they created it, I am not sure.
Do All Wine Glasses Have Stems?
Today not all wine glasses have stems, in recent years there has been a trend in stemless wine glasses. It seems we have come full circle and gone back to wine glasses without stems.
This is frowned upon by some, mainly for the reasons mentioned earlier about hand to bowl temperature, and of course the swirling process.
Don’t forget the smudges.
Does it really matter?
Well, I can understand that a wine glass should have a stem in some cases. A formal occasion should have a stemmed wine glass. That nice meal at the restaurant, and an expensive bottle of wine should always be enjoyed in a stemmed glass.
When it comes to enjoying a glass of wine at home, or in the bar, then a stemless glass is fine. As long as you are not holding the glass the whole time, for obvious reasons.
It is fine to use a stemless wine glass at a less formal occasion, it is more relaxed. And of course if personal choice calls for a stemless glass, then drink out of what you want to.
Both types of wine glass have their place, and we should embrace them and enjoy them as much as the wine inside.
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Stemless Vs. Stemmed Wine Glasses
The first point about putting these two style of glasses up against each other is about personal choice. We all like different things, so aesthetically some will prefer the stemless glass, while other will prefer the stemmed glass.
A stemless glass is easier to store than a stemmed glass, as well as harder to knock over and break.
I am not a fan of dishwashers, however a stemless glass will fair better in one than a stemmed glass.
The stemmed glass can be quite fragile and not as easy to hold. Whereas a stemless glass is more robust and easy to hold.
However holding a glass by the stem will keep the wine in the bowl cooler for longer. Heat from the hand will not warm the wine, unlike a stemless glass. Swirling comes into the game too, most people find it easier to swirl a stemmed glass without spilling than with the stemless type.
Plus you keep your bowl completely free from fingerprints and smudges with a stemmed glass.
With all those points taken into account, I still think it is down to personal choice, and there is a place for both types of wine glass.
We have enjoyed wine for thousands of years, it could be 8000 years ago or more. All those years of wine drinking have not been in stemmed glasses. Our ancestors loved the stuff, just as we do today, and they used whatever drinking vessel that was available.
We know why wine glasses have stems and I understand the reasons for the stemmed glass and the benefits to them.
Is it possible to enjoy wine just as much from a stemless glass?
I think we would all differ on the answer to that question. Personally I think we can enjoy wine from any vessel if we so choose. Having said that all my wine glasses are stemmed. Even though I have enjoyed wine from a stemless glass (yes, I said enjoyed, it can be done), I have yet to add any to my glass collection.
Something I will put right immediately, because like I said they have their place.
What wine glasses do you prefer?
Share your thoughts on which type of wine glass you enjoy wine in, and if there is any valid reason why, or if it is just because you like the glass design.