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Red wine glasses are specialized vessels used to serve and enjoy red wine. Though wine can be consumed out of any type of glass, a red wine glass allows the wine to show off its color, aroma texture and flavor. The most common types of red wine glasses are the Bordeaux and the burgundy glass, though modern glassmakers have branched out to make glasses specially designed to suit the needs of other varietals.
Traditional red wine glasses are most often seen in two varieties. Heavier red wines are often served in a glass called the Bordeaux glass. These glasses have a modestly wide bowl that curves only slightly as it approaches the rim, allowing the wine to reach the back of the tongue more easily, where the richer flavors can be enjoyed. The wider opening of the Bordeaux glass also allows the wine to aerate, or breathe, which is necessary to unlock the flavors in wines such as cabernet and tampranillo.
Lighter reds, such as the pinot noir or Beaujolais, benefit from a glass called a burgundy glass. These glasses have a rounder bowl that narrows as it reaches the lip. The narrowing of the bowl towards the top keeps the aroma inside the glass so that the more delicate nose of the wine can be enjoyed.
Both Bordeaux and burgundy glasses are large relative to all-purpose glasses or glasses intended for drinking white wine. They commonly hold between 10 and 22 ounces (0.3-0.6 L), even though a typical pour of red wine is between 6 and 8 ounces (0.18-0.24 L). The reason for the large body is so that the red wine can be swirled in the glass. Swirling red wine helps it to oxidize, which releases the flavors and the aromas of the wine.
Some wine glass makers have gone further than the traditional Bordeaux and burgundy glasses to design specialized wine glasses for each varietal of red. These varietal-specific glasses adjust the size of the bowl and the angle at which it rises to help unlock the aromas and flavors of each type of wine. There are red wine glasses made for cabernet, Syrah, merlot and other types of wine.
An all-purpose wine glass can also be used to serve either red or white wines. These glasses are a compromise between the wide bowls commonly seen in red wine glasses and the narrow ones used for white wine. The California Wine Institute has developed a standard wine glass that is 5.5 inches tall (14 cm) and has a 1.75 inch (4.5 cm) stem. The bowl of this glass is shaped like a tulip.
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