Why You Should Hold a Wine Glass by the Stem

Sometimes it seems like there are just too many things to think about when drinking wine. Societal pressure is there, looking over our shoulders. Are we doing things right? Often, there is no right or wrong way to enjoy your wine so long as you are enjoying it! However, our blog is here to help you get the very best out of your wine-drinking experience. We’ve already offered advice on the best wine glass to choose depending on what you are drinking; now it’s time to think about the best way to hold that glass to get the most out of your next wine adventure.

Drinking Your Wine at the Optimum Temperature

The most obvious reason for holding a wine glass by the stem is to keep your hand away from the liquid. Doing so means you prevent your body temperature from interfering with the temperature of the wine. With a bold red wine, rich with velvety tannins and full of body, that means that you won’t raise the temperature of the wine through contact with your hand to the point where it becomes harsh on the palate.

A crisp white or sparkling wine is best enjoyed well chilled. The cool temperature helps to maintain the bite of the acidity and the fresh burst of citrus fruit flavors. The heat from your hands will soon take the edge off the chilled ambiance of the wine and impair your enjoyment of its refreshing nature. It makes sense to make this tiny change to how you drink your wine so that you enjoy the last sip just as much as the first.

When wine is heated, the alcohol in the glass can also start to evaporate at a faster and uneven rate. This can ultimately interfere with your enjoyment of the most complex and delicate layers of flavor within your wine — and this is most important to consider with expensive wines that have interesting and complicated taste profiles. So you can get the most bang for your buck by avoiding holding the glass by the wide bulb and only touching the stem instead.

It may only be a marginal effect, but over the course of drinking a whole glass of wine, the placement of your hand will undoubtedly have an impact.

Enjoy the Beauty of Your Wine

A freshly polished glass is the perfect vessel to assess the hue and clarity of the wine you are serving. This can tell you a lot about a wine before you so much as raise it to your lips. By holding your glass by the stem, you make sure that fingerprints and smudges do not impair your enjoyment of the wine’s appearance. After all, wine is a full sensory experience, so you might as well enjoy every aspect of your vinous pour!

Drink in Your Wine’s Aroma

You might be able to tell a lot about your wine by looking at it, but you can tell even more from the way it smells. You might pick up wonderful mineral, green fruit, and floral aromas from a rich glass of Viognier or perhaps detect wisps of olive, pepper, and spice against a backdrop of deep dark fruit from a full-bodied Syrah. The best way to encourage these aromas is to agitate the liquid in your glass, swirling it carefully to introduce oxygen and encourage the wine to open up. And, you guessed it, you can swirl your wine much more effectively if you hold the glass by the stem.

You get a much broader and more even swirl going in the glass by gripping it lightly around the stem between your thumb, index, and forefinger. Not only will you swirl more effectively, but your hand will be as far as possible from your nose when you lean in to take a smell. This prevents any residual smells on your hand from interfering with the experience. Those smells could include anything from the effect of your perfume or moisturizer to food odors from preparing or recently having eaten strong-smelling foods.

Once again, it may only be a marginal impact, but the idea is to allow your wine to take center stage so it can shine and tell as much of its story as possible. It is certainly relatively common for bartenders to speak of drinks having been returned to them at the bar because they smelled off when it was actually the pungent aftershave of the customer at fault.

Now that you know why it’s so important to hold your wine glass by the stem when you look at, sniff, swirl, and taste your wine, perhaps it’s time to try out the theory for yourself. Schedule a tasting at Sweet Oaks winery and put your newfound knowledge and skills to the test.

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