Typically in a wine glass, there are three main parts on its composition: the bowl, a base, and the stem. The bowl is simply the part of the glassware where the wine will be contained, the base is the main support of the whole glass and finally, the stem is what provides a solid grip. Depending on the type of glass, it can be of different measures as it relies on the size, diameter, and shape of the bowl.
Wine glass stem functionality can be easy to understand even without requiring a complex explanation, but if that’s the case then why are there many wine glassware that does not come with any stem? What is the true function of this important yet often so disrespected part of the wine glass? The next article will dive deep into the logical and practical utilities of the stem to reach an answer to the previously stated questions.
Why Do Wine Glasses Have Stems?
Wine glass stems prevent the transfer of the holder’s body heat to the wine and allow for easier swirling.
Relying on the stem’s grip is often seen as a status representation in many parties and celebrations as it makes the holder look cooler and presentable. However, stems are not only used for standards and looks, in fact., they have two vital utilities that once understood will make any individual forget about stemless glassware that could be damaging the wine taste and flavor without even knowing it.
Two Vital Stem Utilities: Temperature Transfer and Swirling.
The main point that will be discussed consists of how the stem keeps the holder’s body heat temperature from ruining the composition of the wine and how stems provide better reliability and control when swirling the wine. Both utilities will be briefly discussed to determine and explain their importance on the experience.
1.- Stems Keep the Body Temperature from Changing the Wine’s Temperature.
While that sounds confusing, one of the first crucial things that any wine enthusiast should understand is the fact that maintaining the temperature of a wine sample is extremely important. From the time it is stored until it is served, controlling the wine temperature proves to be a game-changer to promote a better experience as all the flavors and aromas will stay intact.
The relationship between stems and the body’s temperature is that the human hands are just one of the warmest parts of the body, and thanks to the stem’s grip is possible to keep that temperature away from the wine container. This indirectly means that the hands should not touch the glassware bowl at any time, especially if the environment is hot or with high temperatures.
1.5.- Why is this Important?
In the hypothetical case that the hands make contact with the bowl, the heat from the hands will gradually radiate and warm the glass, meaning that the wine’s temperature will slowly start to raise until the flavors and aromas will be overtaken by the alcohol’s presence.
Also, if the style part is considered, holding the glass at the stem will prevent any smudges from creating on the surface of the glass. It is well known that wine glassware can be extremely beautiful and stylish, but that beauty can get damaged by fingerprints and grease which will ruin the divine colors of the wine, looking less interesting and appealing.
2.- Stems Provide Better Support for Swirling:
Swirling the wine is often a fun practice that many individuals like to perform when their glassware is filled with elegant and appealing wine. However, even if it looks like a measure to lose time and look cooler, swirling comes with many benefits, in fact, it could be said that without swirling the wine drinking experience could be less interesting.
The stem plays a big role when someone wants to pass some time swirling their wine, as it is something that requires a certain degree of control and support to avoid spelling the wine all over the place.
2.5- Why is this Important?
As it was stated before, swirling is not just a measure to lose time. Swirling the wine actually helps in releasing all the wonderful aromas of the wine, that’s one of the reasons why the body starts to swirl the glassware even without noticing it at first. But is not something that can be done without care as it can become a wine enthusiast’s worst nightmare in a couple of seconds.
Swirling accidents are fairly recognized in the wine world, as many clothes and tables have become the victims of wine spelling. Most of the cases are caused by a non-usage of the stem’s grip or because the glassware used is stemless.
The stem should be considered as a tool that promotes control, support, and balance on the whole experience. By just placing the hand on the grip and swirling, not only it will be less accident prompt but also it will be possible to observe the beautiful colors of the wine and have closer contact with the aromas. Think about sparkling wines for a second, not having to enjoy their elegant colors dance in the bowl would be a waste.
Conclusion – Should Stemless Glassware Be Avoided?
Once the whole functionality and importance of the stem are clarified, maybe you are thinking that any stemless glassware becomes automatically a nuisance that needs to be avoided at all costs, but it is not like that at all. Stemless glasses prove to be rather useful for many informal celebrations with family members or friends, meaning that they could be used to enjoy a simple sip of wine. However, it is fairly recommended for individuals who are just entering the wine world to acquire glassware that comes with a stem to promote control and support during the whole time.
Another bad habit that beginners tend to develop if they start with stemless glasses is to treat any future glassware as if the stem did not exist at all. This behavior is often automatically developed for staying in contact with the bowl of the glass many times, but if the glassware comes with a stem, use that tool to your advantage, it will quickly become a great practice for future experiences.