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Some people believe that the shape of a wine glass affects the taste of the wine inside. From a representative article:

Believe it or not, even a modestly decent wine will taste different in every glass! Some will mute the flavor, some will emphasize odd scents, some will have no scents at all. If you are fortunate, one glass will present the wine perfectly, and everyone will agree that this is how the wine is supposed to taste. This is a wine fact that almost defies belief—until you try it for yourself.

I am skeptical. Is there any evidence to support this claim?

See also: Does canned beer taste better than bottled beer?

  • The shape of a glass can concentrate the vapors coming of the top surface of the wine, or it can disperse the vapors, thus affecting your sense of smell of that wine. Your sense of smell and taste are linked, so it stands to reason that the shape of the glass would affect your perception of the flavor of the wine. For example, a brandy snifter is designed to concentrate and enhance the smell of whatever is in the glass, and the typical martini glass is of a shape that does the opposite, dispersing the vapors and reducing their effect on taste. Maybe the smells of gin and vermouth don't enhance – user21988 Sep 5 '14 at 18:35
  • aromadictionary.com/articles/wineglass_article.html seems to address the smell aspect pretty well. – Rob P. Sep 6 '14 at 8:38
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The shape of the glass does influence the taste of the wine.

There are even "glass tasting" events where people do not come to taste different wines, but rather to try out different glass shapes and choose the one that works best for their Bordeaux or Syrah.

I have attended one of these events, and even for a non-expert the difference of taste is clear.

The shape of the glass influences several things, among which :

  • How much the wine reacts with air (depending on the size of the surface exposed to the air)
  • How and where the first drops of wine will hit the tongue

This page lists two articles studying the effect of the shape of the glass on the aroma of the wine. Here are the finding from the first study :

  1. Regardless of the wine type (red or white, clean or volatile), the total aroma intensity of the wine was highest in the Riedel Burgundy®, followed by the ISO, followed by the Riedel Chardonnay® glass.
  2. The differences in aroma intensity were relatively small, being 1 point or less on a ten-point intensity scale.
  3. Total intensity of aroma was highly correlated with the ratio of the glasses cup diameter to the diameter of its opening.

And the second study :

  1. Two of the glasses [...] produced a greater overall aroma on most of the characters under study (up to 64% stronger than the ISO). Interestingly, despite their differing dimensions [...].
  2. Glass 3 produced a similar aroma profile to the ISO glass despite it being very different in shape.
  3. The DIN glass with its small cup and relatively wide opening resulted in aromas of less than 50% the strength of that produced by the ISO glass for most of the aromas assessed.
  4. As per Cliff (2001), the intensity of aroma was highly correlated with the ratio of the glasses cup diameter to the diameter of its opening.
  • 1
    That's not a bad answer. But you could improve it by including some short quotes from the two articles in the last reference. This helps avoid link rot and means we can judge the key arguments without having to follow too many links. – matt_black Sep 6 '14 at 12:42

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