Well, the short answer is: Yes. They are important. Now, I’m going to preface this by saying that if you don’t have the ideal glassware, but you have a bottle of wine that wants drinkin’, use what you’ve got! Juice glass, solo cup, whatever.
However, if you do want to… “maximize your wine experience” we’ll say, then the proper glassware can help.
The ideal wine glass is what they call "tulip" shaped and made from clear glass (you can tell a lot about a wine by its color- something I'll go into in another post- and colored glass would mask those clues.) It has a big full bowl and narrows slightly as it goes up toward the rim. You know what it looks like. It looks like this:
One of these days I’ll go into aroma compounds a little bit more in-depth because they’re pretty nifty. But for now, all you need to know is that some are quick to escape from the wine, and some take a little longer. This is why it is smart to re-cork or vacuum seal a bottle of wine right away if you don’t plan to drink it all in one sitting. It’s also why a glass of wine can continue to change in aroma and taste as it is exposed to oxygen and “breathes.”
(As a general rule, red wines tend to have more complex aroma components and therefore do well to “open up” a little and let those aroma compounds unlock from the wine before drinking.)
Now, there’s also another question when it comes to glassware- stemless or stemmed?
Stemless glasses like this one are pretty trendy right now.
Ok, back to glassware- A stemless glass will absorb heat from your hand, and therefore it really isn't good for retaining that nice crisp temperature for whites. Also, with a cold white wine, they’re more likely to sweat and make a ring on the bottom- if you care about such things. Ultimately, It’s really a matter of preference.
I like a nice medium to large glass with a stem- and it needs to be sturdy. I got mine for cheap at Pier One- they get broken, it happens, and this way, they're easily replaceable and I- or my guests- don't feel too bad.
Did you know?
When you detect something like blackberry or lychee in a glass of wine, that’s because you are tasting or smelling the same molecular compounds that are present in those fruits!