It's a cinch you're thinking about wine a little more than usual this time of year. The holidays have that effect, you know. Suddenly, that garlic-flavored varietal (yes, there is such a thing) declares its presence from the lowly kitchen cranny it's been sitting in since 1994, and you're reckoning it's the perfect last-minute gift for the asshole roommate who talked you into buying it in the first place.
There are a few more refined ways to acknowledge your unsuspecting target's preferences when it comes to wine. You probably knew this, but wine glasses are shaped differently depending on their intended contents. What you might not have suspected is that there's some serious chemistry behind this idea, with an honest enhancement of your drink the ideal result. The red wine glass is cast with a substantially wider bowl—most reds are meant to be served at room temp, and the vessel's girth tends to expose the beverage to that warmer ambient air. The reverse principle is at work with the white glass, whose resident fare is best served colder. The glass' narrower shape preserves the chill in two ways: It reduces the amount of air circulating into the bowl, and the skimpier surface area cuts the transfer of warmth from your sweat-laden palm.
Wine stemware makes a darn fine gift, then, as surely as does the beverage itself. You can find some fairly decent stuff, made by the fine folks at Riedel, Reserve, Fusion and other places, at www.wineenthu siast.com or at spots like the Beverage Factory showroom (8060 Arjons Drive, Mira Mesa). All that's left to figure out is whether the fuss is more trouble than it's worth. If your roomie's into garlic-based fare, he's probably the sort that takes his wine straight out of the bottle, just like you do the rest of the year.