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Episode 6082: Entertaining 101
Wine Service
Formal to a tee

Ever been confronted with choosing the right glass for the right wine? Never fear, as my friend Michael Sullivan, a sommelier, has a simple guide to follow. Michael also has tips on how to taste wine in a restaurant, and to place glasses correctly within any table setting.

When it comes to wine glasses, the design tends to revolve around how much of the bouquet, or aroma, the wine emits. The bowl of a white wine glass should be medium-sized and tapered at the top to help focus aromas inward towards the nose. A simple design, this glass can be used for many different whites, from Sauvignon Blanc to Chardonnay.

Red wine glasses should have a slightly larger, rounder bowl than white wine glasses. With sloped shoulders, these glasses have a broad opening at the top, allowing the flavours to release in large red wines such as a Shiraz. For a more delicate Pinot Noir the glass should have a very large bowl at the bottom and a narrow chimney on top.

Dessert wine glasses tend to be delicate, tiny, and tapered inwards at the rim and can be used for port, or sherry and ice wine.

In terms of positioning glassware for your table setting, the water glass is always the anchor, and is always placed just above the knife. Depending on how large your table is, you can run each glass on a 45-degree angle off of the water glass in the order with which you’re going to serve your meal.

For example, if you’re starting your meal with champagne, place that down first, followed by a white glass for your first course, and then a red one. If your table isn’t that large, you can run them in a square or diamond fashion, again off of the knife. If you don’t have all the different types of glasses, fear not as some serve a dual-purpose and won’t let either red or white suffer in the glass.

Finally, when you’re a guest at a dinner party and you find yourself confounded by all the glasses just follow the lead of your host.

When tasting wine hold the glass by the stem, so as not to affect its temperature with the warmth of your hand. Tilt the glass and look at the colour. If it’s cloudy chances are there is something wrong with the wine.

Swirl the glass before taking in the wine's bouquet and that anticipated first sip. Allow the wine to cascade over all of your taste buds so you can take in all of the wine's characteristics. It’s as simple as tilt, sniff, swirl and taste!