Recently the ‘alternative’ drinking receptacle has become all the rage across a whole series of trendy bars. Cocktails, beer and yes, even wine, are being served in offbeat vessels from jam jars or tea cups to the occasional boot.

There are a lot of rules set out that suggest drinking your beautiful bordeaux from a coffee mug is a basically wine blasphemy. These rules must be there for a reason. But sometimes it can be fun to experiment with alternative ways to drink your wine, if not entirely sophisticated.

Half-puzzled, half-bemused, the wine newbie undertakes to explore some of the wine drinking alternatives available – and what they may or may not be doing to your experience of the wine.

Can straws can help aerate wine?

The straw is often reserved for those of us with sensitive teeth or the occasional cocktail. But some people have questioned whether drinking wine through a straw can help aerate it.

Remember that blowing through the straw is not going to achieve a speedy aerating effect – you’ll just make bubbles and perhaps a mess. I shall not say whether or not I learned this the hard way.

Unfortunately, the aeration myth is not true. All that happens when you drink wine through a straw is you avoid staining your teeth and often drink much quicker. But you are also missing the nose completely. Aerating wine releases the bouquet and thus if you’re not getting that wonderful combination of smells, as you wouldn’t with a straw, it makes the aeration a mute point.

To aerate the wine it is best to use the simple glass swirling technique. Or if you want a more thorough aeration you can decant wine. Perhaps straws should be saved only for the bad wine behind closed doors.

Will stainless steel vessels transfer metallic tastes onto the wine?

There have been some quite swanky-looking wine ‘glasses’ floating around bespoke gift shops online in a brushed stainless steel effect. Okay, so they look kind of cool (and help avoid calamitous outcomes for the butter-fingered), but how will they affect my drink experience?

After some online research it seems the sommeliers of Google are mostly in agreement: If you drink your wine out of metal it’s going to take on the taste profile of metal. It may be best not to invest in a set of 6 stainless steel champagne flutes if you can avoid it.

Can a wine tumbler help achieve the right temperature for red wine?

If you want your white wine crisp and cool then I’d assume a tumbler wouldn’t be the right drinking equipment because your body heat would transfer from your hand into the glass. Plus, if your wine is properly chilled it would make your hand pretty chilly too. But surely that would make it a good vessel for a room temperature red?

I figured I was onto something so I did some research. Apparently the wine tumbler is a very European trend and harks back to the days of simplicity in dining. The issues with the tumbler is that there isn’t enough curvature on the glass to get a good bouquet and the thickness of them tends to hinder small sipping – it ends up being more of a glug.

If not a tumbler then how about a stemless wine glass?

But you can get stemless wine glasses! These have the curvature and the fine glass needed. So what’s the verdict? Is the heat from hand helping? It seems that a glass with a stem is best for white wine (at least the ones you serve chilled) as it stops the glass getting warm.

But red wine can sit perfectly in a stemless glass and may even benefit a little from the warmth of your hand – particularly if the room temperature itself is a bit nippy.

However beware the swirling of a stemless glass or a tumbler. It is much easier to spill without an elegant stem to steady overzealous sloshing!

Overall it seems that classics are classics for a reason – they work. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun and experiment at home.


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