The correct piece of stemware might be the single most important com- ponent for enjoying wine fully, says
Martin Dell, resort manager at Four Seasons
Maui, a 383-room oceanfront property set
on the island’s Wailea Coast.
Dell shares his affection for selecting the
correct glass during a Four Seasons Maui
group activity called “Glassology: A Tour of
Shapes and Tastes,” held in the private
dining room of DUO Steak and
Seafood, overlooking a waterfall pool at this luxury resort.
A certified sommelier,
Dell saw his passion for
glassware ignited while
he was at the JW Marriott
Hotel in Hong Kong. That
property has a dedicated
room for Riedel Crystal, makers of wine glasses since 1756.
“The type of glass one chooses for the wine being served has
a huge impact on how it tastes,” says Dell,
who shares stories of his time working
in key food-and-beverage roles at luxury
resorts all over the globe — Hong Kong,
Doha, Sydney, and the Czech Republic
— in between his wine talk. “The proper
glass takes the experience to another level.
It unites the wine’s personality, its aroma,
and taste.”As a matter of fact, before choosing the wine he is going to drink, Dell first
looks at the glass selection.
The correct glass creates a “chimney” so
the wine’s aroma wafts up toward the nose.
More than 90 percent of taste is smell, Dell
explains, and a glass that optimizes the bou-
quet is ideal.
During Glassology, five glasses with
bowls of different shapes, a plastic cup in
the middle, are arranged in front of each
participant with Dell perched at the head
of the table as he shares his knowledge.
Crystal sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and
pinot noir glasses are joined by a short,
thick glass popular for banquets in
Various wines are sampled
in each, with an initial swirl
in the mouth. “If you don’t
swirl, you don’t get the full
picture, the full bouquet of
the wine,” he says.
“Our tongues have five
taste sensations,” he ex-
plains, and sticks his tongue
out to demonstrate. One area
reacts to sweetness, others to
sourness, bitterness, saltiness,
Dell describes how Claus Riedel invented
different wine glasses for nearly every varietal. Fortunately, many glasses work equally
well for different wines. For example, the
bordeaux glass does well for most red wines
as does the burgundy glass. “On average,
what we spend on a bottle of wine is what
we should spend on our glassware,” Dell
During the group activity, attendees can
experience how the same wine smells and
tastes different depending on the shape and
size of the glass. Surprisingly, in some cases,
the plastic cup was preferred over a glass of
the wrong shape.
Before tasting wine, one’s nose should go
into the glass as far as possible to inhale the
bouquet. At one point in the demonstration,
Dell has the attendees cover their nostrils as
they sip, demonstrating how smell affects
taste and further showing the importance of
the correct glass for optimizing the bouquet.
Temperature matters, as well. Pinot noir,
for instance, should be served at around
60 degrees; sauvignon blanc, 44 degrees.
“Room temperature is not ideal as you don’t
get the flavors. Too cold, the flavors do not
open up,” explains Dell.
Wine enthusiasts as well as novices will
leave Dell’s class with an understanding
of the vessels used to serve wine in and
this knowledge will help enhance the total
BY ANDREA DOYLE
food & beverage
A wine glass can be as important as the wine that goes in it
Martin Dell shows groups the
importance of wineglasses
Visitors to Four Seasons Maui can take a wine-tasting
course that focuses on stemware