Don't Believe This Myth About Your Drinking Glasses

There are a lot of complications around alcohol, and drinkware is definitely one of them. The panoply of drinking glasses leads to a lot of questions and confusion as to what their individual purpose is, and the assumption that there must be reasons beyond just looks for the existence of drinking vessels as different as the Collins glass and martini glass. Those thoughts are not totally misplaced; the glass you are drinking from does serve some practical purposes beyond moving liquid to your mouth, but all that consternation is a little overdone. Tasting Table reached out to Mandy Naglich, food journalist, Advanced Cicerone, and author of "How to Taste: A Guide to Discovering and Savoring Life," for her expert opinion on drinking glasses, and she dispelled a pretty commonly held myth that should help you relax a bit when picking out your drinkware.

Naglich told us that beyond the basics, "a lot of what you hear about glassware doesn't impact flavor all that much." A common claim is that certain drinking and cocktail glasses push liquids to different parts of your mouth. But according to Naglich, that isn't really important. She says, "The 'tongue map' that assigned different flavors to different regions of the tongue has long been debunked," and since that is true, she adds, "It doesn't really matter where the glass guides the liquid."

Where the glass guides your drink doesn't really affect the taste

The tongue map that Naglich refers to is the classic image assigning different tastes like bitter, sour, and sweet to different sections of the tongue, under the idea that those sections contained receptors that were specific to those tastes. However that idea is just a persistent myth, and while taste receptors like sweet and salty are in fact separate, they are grouped together throughout the mouth. With that being the case, Naglich says, "As long as you have a glass it's not too important that you get caught up in glassware specifics."

That doesn't mean the shape of glasses serves no purpose. Stemware like wine glasses and martini glasses help to keep your hands from warming drinks, and the wide top of many glasses concentrates aroma in a way that amplifies taste. But there are a number of glasses that feature wide tops and can get the job done without getting bogged down in specific uses. Naglich says, "A universal wine glass is great for everything from sake, to cider, beer, and even small pours of spirits," so you don't need to be shelling out for a huge variety of glasses. Instead, you can just relax, use what you have on hand, and focus on enjoying your drink.