You may have made quite an investment in a bottle of wine, and been keeping your wine in your wine cellar, under the perfect controlled conditions of temperature and humidity, for the exact right number of years. You might have opened it the perfect number of minutes before dinner. You might have made the perfect foods to bring out its sublime taste and aroma. But without the perfect wine glass, you won't be enjoying your wine to its fullest capacity.
Unless you're a sommelier, you'll probably only need three kinds of wine glasses: some for white, some for red, and champagne flutes. Each wine glass consists of three parts: the bowl, the stem, and the foot. The proper way to drink wine, especially chilled wine, is by holding the wine glass from the stem, and so providing the least temperature interference. The shape of the bowl is important, as it determines how fast the wine oxidizes.
Red wine glasses have a wider, rounder bowl that increases their rate of oxidation, allowing oxygen from the air to chemically change the flavor and aroma of the wine. Oxidization is generally desired for red wines, as it "smoothes" their taste. There are also special styles of red wine glasses, such as the Bordeaux glass, which is tall and has a broad bowl designed for full-bodied wines like Cabernets, and the Burgundy glass, which, being broader than the Bordeaux glass, has a bigger bowl that helps to accumulate the aromas of more delicate red wines.
White wines require less oxidation, although different styles of wine glasses are suited to different types of wine; a chardonnay, for example, benefits from oxidation while lighter styles don't. Champagne flutes use the smallest mouth to preserve the bubbles.
Wine glasses made from cut glass can interfere with the wine's taste, and so are less desirable than those made from blown glass. The highest quality wine glasses are made from lead crystal, which have the aesthetic advantage of changing the refraction of light that passes through them, thus increasing the beauty of the wine. A trendy wine glass style is the stemless glass, which is great for casual dinners and parties.
The many styles of wine glass have an appreciable effect on the wine-drinking experience. Your wine glass should be chosen carefully to compliment your wine.