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Does Glassware Make A Difference?

Tue, 11/04/2014
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Does Glassware Make a Difference? Are your investments in drinking great wine and cocktails being dilluted by your glassware, George Maska thinks it is! [Editor's note]

Absolutely, but only when true science and engineering have been applied to the design.  For hundreds of years, the purpose of glassware has been “to hold a beverage as it is transferred from container to mouth”.  Many companies claim their designs are science based.  In fact, they “guess” at the science, and hold seminars to convince a gullible public through deviously crafted powers of suggestion.  Glassware is designed in studios solely for aesthetic reasons, and handed over to marketing departments to add the “science sizzle” - the decadent, unimaginative routine of a long stagnant industry doing the same old thing over and over and expecting different results.  Caveat Emptor!

Dispelling myths of “science sizzle”: 

  1. There is no tongue map.  All basic taste sensations (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, umami) are sent to the brain from all parts of the tongue. (See Tongue Map, also Taste in Wikipedia). 
  2. Different glassware shapes do not deliver beverage to different tongue areas.  The size and shape of the mouth and location of teeth renders this notion ludicrous. 
  3. Glass shape cannot “hold down” alcohol smell.  The only way is with a lid.

REAL science:

  1. Flavor = taste + smell.  You do not taste raspberries, you smell raspberries, taste “sweet”.  Both sensations combine into a single signal sent to the brain, recalling raspberries.
  2. Mouth feel is accomplished by other oral sensors which detect dryness (tannins), oily, cool, minty, pungent, and many others.
  3. Alcohol is anesthetic and numbs the olfactory sensors causing “nose fatigue”, inhibiting sense of smell.
  4. Olfactory sensors are specific to detect certain types of aromas by molecular characteristics (see Olfaction, lock and key theory, Wikipedia). 
  5. Alcohol molecular characteristics allow it to “pose” as other molecules, “locking up” sensors before they can detect their molecules.
  6. Women have 20% more sensitive noses than men, and alcohol smell is painful.

Applied science and engineering yields the best nosing, tasting, and evaluation.  Look for these factors:

Evaporation is everything:  No evaporation = no aroma.  The best glassware provides (1) wide bowl for more evaporation area, (2) curved sides for more evaporation, and (3) shape that allows vigorous swirling.  Swirl, swirl, swirl before every sip.  Swirl = evaporation = aroma.

Short distance between surface area and rim: All compounds have unique molecular shapes/weights.  Many heavy molecules in long chain shapes may not reach the rims of tall glasses for detection.  Getting your nose closer to the surface increases the aromas you smell.

“Necked” and flared rim:  This shape removes alcohol nose burn and numbing, preventing olfactory fatigue.   Concentrating aromas in the neck causes lighter alcohol molecules to separate.  The flared rim provides an escape route for fast moving alcohol, leaving slower moving aromas in a “sweet spot” for olfactory detection.

Surface tension controls evaporation:  Just as swirling breaks surface tension and improves evaporation, adding water raises surface tension and shuts down evaporation.  Do not add water or ice.

These principles were discovered in 2003 by Arsilica, Inc. in Las Vegas, Nevada, and NEAT, the ultimate spirits glass, was born and patented after 9 years, 52 different design iterations, hundreds of extensive testing and panel tastings, and conclusive GCMS studies by the UNLV chemistry department.  To date, no other company in existence can verify their scientific claims. NEAT stands for Naturally Engineered Aroma Technology, and we are changing the way the world drinks.  Discover more at www.theneatglass.com, stay tuned for future products, especially the ladies who can now enjoy straight spirits without painful nose burn.  Challenge your favorite glassware with NEAT.