Toast and Taste with Karen MacNeil Flavor First Wine Glasses

Have you ever wondered if the shape of a glass influences the tasting experience? Read on to learn about how Karen MacNeil Flavor First™ wine glasses impact the wines consumed from them.

Personally, I am convinced that the shape of a glass can amplify a wine’s aromas and affect where the wine lands on the tongue. That’s before we even get into how the aesthetics of a beautiful wine glass can elevate the overall encounter with a precious beverage.

Accordingly, I was elated when my work as a Washington Wine Ambassador for the Auction of Washington Wines presented an opportunity to take part in a special tasting for the AWW’s Private Reserve Club. The event was led by wine expert Karen MacNeil, of whom I am a big fan! She’s the AWW Honorary Chair, author of the award-winning book The Wine Bible, creator of Flavor First™ stemware, as well as a brilliant wine educator. For about an hour we experimented with the three signature tasting glasses in the set, along with three accompanying wines, and chatted with the premier winemakers who provided the bottles for our pleasure.

Karen MacNeil Flavor First Wine Glass Development

With the thought that most people describe wine simply with descriptors such as “bold reds,” Karen determined that she would design wine glasses around flavor. Here’s a rundown on what she sought during the three year development process.

  • A glass the consumer isn’t afraid to break because it costs so much. Therefore, a target price of around $10 per stem.
  • Each stem the same height for easy storage.
  • No separate white wine glass.
  • A thin rim.
  • A fine stem, but not so thin it can easily break.
  • Mostly, Karen desired a very big foot on each wine glass. Operating on the notion that most glass designers construct a glass when empty, she wanted to design it full. When a glass has a larger foot, it allows more swirling and doesn’t tip over as easily.

The end result is three distinct glasses, each with a different bowl shape. Stamped onto the foot of each glass is the style of wine for which it is meant. The three types are “crisp and fresh,” “creamy and silky,” and “bold and powerful.”

The Tasting

In our experiential tasting, we sampled three fantastic Washington wines including:
Sashay Rosé by Shae Frichette of Frichette Winery,
Palencia Grenache by Victor Palencia of Palencia Winery, and
Andrew Januik Stone Cairn Cabernet Sauvignon by Andrew Januik.

As we tasted the refreshing rosé in the crisp and fresh glass, the strawberry notes popped and the wine sang. In contrast, the bright wine seemed like the volume was turned down when tasted from the bold and powerful glass.

Next, we tried the Grenache. When tasted from the crisp and fresh glass the oak notes dominated. However, from the creamy and silky glass, more complex spice notes came out and the wine wowed us. Karen explained that Grenache needs more air and more room. The bowl of the creamy and silky glass gives it that.

Last of all we poured the Cabernet Sauvignon into the crisp and fresh glass. For me it was a tart tannin explosion. On the other hand, in the bold and powerful glass, classic cabernet characteristics shined through along with the weight of the wine. What an incredible difference the choice of Karen MacNeil Flavor First glass made!

Glassware definitely influences my wine experience. Do you have a favorite brand or style of wine glasses? As always, head on over to Twitter or Instagram and #LetsTalkAboutWine.

Auction of Washington Wines 2021 Events

No wine lover should miss out on these fun upcoming AWW events! Check out the Auction of Washington Wines website and set a reminder for the following dates.

Wine and Music Online Auction
May 18

Wine and Music Virtual Concerts
May 18-20

Gala Online Auction
August 10

Virtual and Live Gala
August 14