Brussels, 22 Oct 2003
A German-US study has proved wine connoisseurs to be correct, indicating that the shape of a glass does have a significant effect on the odour and therefore enjoyment of a wine.
To test the theory, scientists from Dresden, Philadelphia and Ohio gave wine to blindfolded testers in a selection of glasses. All three glasses had a stem, but differed according to their 'beaker', 'tulip' or 'bulbous' shape.
'[T]he present data appear to indicate that the bulbous shape of glasses, compared to tulip or beaker glasses, produces a higher intensity of wine odours which is accompanied by an increased liking of the wine odour,' states the project report.
Results were obtained by asking the volunteers to rate intensity and liking, aesthetic impression of the glasses, and odour quality. As a rule, odour intensities were strongest for the bulbous glass, both before and after sipping the wine. Swirling the wine in the glass was found to increase both odour intensity and linking, whether or not the subject drank the wine.
The scientists can only speculate as to the reasons why the shape of a glass has an impact on the enjoyment of wine. One explanation could be that a very small opening may not allow the simultaneous intake of odour and wine during drinking, which may, in turn, influence the aroma of the wine. On the other hand, a small body in a glass may not be sufficient to keep the wine 'headspace', which is constantly diluted by air. Another theory is that a small diameter may result in only a small area being available for the diffusion of odours, which could, in turn, translate into a decreased number of odorous molecules emanating from the wine.
Although the researchers detected a definite trend in favour of bulbous shaped glasses, they do note that 'only people with good olfactory sensitivity may be able to enjoy the subtle differences that accompany the presentation of wines in different glasses.' To read the study in full, please visit: http:///ssg.fst.ohio-state.edu/Who/public ations/Hummel.pdf