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Port wine is typically a sweet wine that is served after dinner, so it is often called a dessert wine. It is usually sipped because of its intense sweetness and its high concentration of alcohol. The glasses used specifically to serve port wines are generally much smaller than red, white, or sparkling wine glasses because a smaller amount of dessert wine is usually poured. The glasses for port are thought to be best if they have a smaller size than standard wine glasses and a small straight or slightly fluted rim.
Different glass sizes and shapes are used for different wines because of the properties of the individual wines. The types of wine glasses for red wines, for instance, have large bowls and rims to allow more air to hit the wine. Likewise, white wine glasses have smaller bowls and narrower openings to preserve the scent, which helps add to the flavor. Sparkling wines and dry wines, on the other hand, are typically best served in tall glasses, such as champagne flutes, to show the bubbles and concentrate the fragrance. Port wine glasses, however, are often small because this type of wine is considered a dessert drink, and the glasses typically are flared as well, to allow the wine to roll directly onto the tongue.
You can drink port wine out of any type of wine glass you choose, but using proper port wine glasses can enhance both the presentation of the wine and your enjoyment of it. The best wine glasses for almost any vintage are generally clear glasses with no decorations or designs, as the clear glass allows the color of the wine to show through. Wine enthusiasts count appearance as a large part of the enjoyment of drinking wine, so clear glasses are almost always preferred.
Cheap port wine glasses, as long as they are clear and designed in the proper shape, may be just as good as expensive port wine glasses. The choice will depend on your preference and how much you want to spend. When you are serving port, your guests will probably not know the difference between cheap or expensive glasses. People experienced with wine will probably only notice the shape of your port glasses and whether or not they are properly sized.
The best port wine glasses also typically have a rim with a slightly fluted quality. This is said to allow the wine to roll directly onto the tongue. Many port glasses have no fluting but have straight sides instead. The type you choose is really up to your preference, as the most important quality of port wine glasses is typically their much smaller size. If you cannot find glasses designed specifically for port wine, choose the smallest standard wine glasses available and remember to only pour a small amount when serving.
@Melonlity -- Ah, poor old port. It is simply not as appreciated as it deserves (well, that is entirely my opinion but I stand by it). There are some fairly expensive port wines out there, and there is nothing wrong with paying a few bucks for decent glasses to pour it into. You could pick up a good port wine glasses set for less money than you might expect, so do some research and find the one that is right for you.
But, again, it would seem that port is unappreciated much in the same way that sherry and some other fortified wines are. If you like a wine well enough, why not buy some fine wine glasses tailored for that particular drink?
I kind of question the necessity of buying port wine glasses. Port is, after all, not considered one of the top notch wines out there. Why bother with pricey glasses to suck down port wine? Just about any wine glass would do, wouldn't it?
If you must get special wine glasses for your port, I would head down to the local dollar store and purchase some of those. Save your money for glasses to drink that expensive wine.
As for fluted wine glasses, I always prefer those for any type of wine. I have a settle of crystal, fluted wine glasses that are good for any occasion. Red wine, white wine, port or anything else goes well in them. They are etched wine glasses, too, so that is a bit of a stylish bonus.
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