The mother-of-all weddings of you-know-who’s daughter in Paris last week and a photo of the newly married couple holding the glass of a DP, Krug or Cristal to raise a toast to each other made me think again of a wine topic close to my heart- how to hold a wineglass?
I don’t mean to analyze how the couple is holding their champagne glasses. In fact the bride is holding it quite correctly. And as one would expect at the wedding planned so meticulously, right shape of the champagne glass, a flute has been used. (One never uses the saucer shaped glass – the bubbles, the most enjoyable part of the bubbly disappear faster). Even the level of champagne poured is correct-it should be three-fourths full or even slightly more, as one never swirls champagne for the same reason.
The only correct way to hold the glass is by the stem, though some professional tasters and aficionados like to hold it by the base. THE most important reason is that it helps you swirl the wine and bring out faster and more fully its aromas in the shape of ethers by evaporating the alcohol in the wine that sticks to the sides on swirling. Try experimenting yourself with a decent wine (preferably a fuller bodied Red). Pour it in a small glass and smell it without swirling. Now switch it to another glass –the biggest stemware you have, swirl it a few times in either clockwise or anticlockwise direction. Now nose the wine and watch the aromas travel through your nostrils. Ahh, you will FEEL the difference!
Wine gets warmer if held by the side of the glass bowl due to higher temperature of the fingers or palm. You want wine, especially the white including sparkling, to stay as close as possible to the served temperature to get its maximum flavour. Besides, imagine sipping wine and eating a pizza, samosa or a chicken tangri kabab with hands, at the same time. The fingerprints of grease and spice on the glass do not make a pretty picture, especially to those conversing with you. Holding by the stem avoids this embarrassing situation. Swirling needs only a bit of practice in your house using water instead of wine in the appropriate glass and holding the stem – it can get awkward spilling wine on your shirt while swirling in company. The exercise is similar to learning the use of chopsticks with Chinese food.
Having said that, the picture of the Bhatia couple notwithstanding, I have been observing for many years the style of holding glasses by various characters in Hollywood and Bollywood films as also the small screen. Regretfully, my conclusion is that less than a tenth of wine drinkers hold the glass correctly. Why? I don’t know. My query to several wine experts has not been addressed satisfactorily. Perhaps these people have not yet imbibed the art of drinking wine properly and naturally, the filmmakers do not feel the need to engage services of wine consultants for a seemingly trivial matter.
By the way, while on the subject of glasses, it is natural that the glass should be thin, plain and clear and NOT a cut-glass crystal to see the colour of wine properly, be of big enough size (250 ml or above, and bigger for the Reds to release the more complex aromas) and the bowl shape should be curving inwards at the top to concentrate aromas and direct them through your olfactory ducts.
So next time you hold a glass of wine or bubbly to raise a toast, do it in style … the correct style and hold it by the stem and proudly say …
For those of you not aware of ot, this was the wedding of the daughter of Lakshmi Mittal, the international steel king and one of the richest Indians living in UK last month. An estimated $60 million dollars were spent on the dream wedding that took place in Paris