Answer: When it is invisible.
I must stress, above all how important the right glassware is for judging, critically analyzing and maximally enjoying wine. I guarantee if you taste a wine out of a small (less than 10 oz) thick, clunky wine glass and taste the same wine out of a good sized (15-25 oz) thin crystal wine glass of the the right shape (more on shape later) you will notice a big difference in the taste and smell of the wine.The key factors are the delicacy (or “invisibility”), the size and the style of the glass
A glass with a thin rim of fine crystal or glass becomes “invisible”. You experience the wine and you are not aware of the vessel. It is the same priniciple as a fine china teacup. The tea tastes better and you don’t feel this thick clunky rim in your mouth.
The glass’s size is very important. Many restaurants use small heavy glasses, usually under 10 ounces total volume. Please note you don’t fill a wine glass. A full pour of table wine is about 5 ounces which fills a 15-25 ounce glass only 1/3 to 1/4 full. the space within the glass above the wine is a staging area in which the aromatic compounds in the wine can collect and waft up your nose (very important). Remember, most of the subtleties of wine are in the aroma. Your tastebuds register texture and the basic tastes of sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami (“savoriness”) while your olfactory senses are wired to your brain and can conjour up an endless number of aromas and responses to them. Taste is more of a physical sense and smell is more mental. The style of the glass is important as well. There are a few basic types with links to good examples from our portfolio of Ravenscroft crystal glassware available our website.
Red Bordeaux glass: This is fairly tulip shaped with a round bowl that comes in a little at the top.It is designed to focus and direct the aromas and flavors to the palate and nose. The bigger ones (20-30oz)are good for red Bordeaux, other Cabernets or Cabernet based wines, Tuscan reds, Rhone reds.
For Full bodied whites a smaller Bordeaux style glass (less than 20oz) are good for Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and many other oak aged and unoaked whites
Burgunday glass: This is most commonly used for Pinot Noir, it is the big balloon shaped glass that can range from 20-30 oz in bowl size. Remember you only pour 5 oz. Pinot is very delicate and a lot of the Pinot experience is aroma and bouquet. This glass is like a zeppelin for transporting all those pretty aromas from lower alcohol cool climate reds. It is ideal for Pinot Noir but very good for very fine aged Nebbiolo based wines as well.
More specialized glasses are designed for other wines.
Champagne flutes are tall and well, flute shaped holding maybe 10 ounces. They are designed to enhance the bead and mousse of good Champagne to retain the effervescence better than in a glass with a wider bowl.
The port glass is designed for get the most out of vintage port, the bowl is under 10 ounces, partly because of the size of the average Port serving, according to Ravenscroft this glass is designed to “buffer” the high alcohol of the port so you don’t get that burn in the bouquet yet transmits the intense fruit quality of Port.
So if you’ve never paid attention to the glass you pour your wine into, use a nicer glass and taste the difference.