Believe it or not there is actually a purpose to serving mead in different glasses. Start by knowing the different parts of a glass.
The opening of the glass should also be smaller than the wider part of the glass in order to concentrate the aromas. The glass should be transparent (no images) and colorless so that your mead’s color appears more richer. Wine glasses with stems prevents the drinker from touching the bowl so that there are no fingerprints obscuring the glass and that your fingers are not warming the wine above proper serving temperature.
Appreciating the aromas of your mead is another special enjoyment. As you pour your mead into your glass, the aromas will begin to fill the glass in layers according to their density. At the bottom of your glass will be the heaviest layer (the wood and alcohol aroma). Then the middle layer of your glass will contain the green vegetal and earthy mineral aroma. The top layer will contain the lightest vapors (the flower and fruit aromas). Therefore different glass shapes are available depending on which particular aroma you want to feature. Slender glasses magnify the lighter floral and fruit aromas. Glasses that hold more than 25 ounces allow you sniff through the layers by inhaling gently and consistently for more than 10 seconds.
The shape of the glass also affects how the drinker will perceive the taste. A glass with a wide top requires us to sip the drink by lowering our head. But a glass with a narrow top requires us to roll our head back and lets gravity do its work and make the liquid flow. This delivers the mead to different zones of the palate.
For instance Riedel Rheingau glasses (left) have a gently curved lip around the rim so that your tongue will unconsciously curve up when sipping. The fluid therefore bypasses the acidity taste receptors on the tip of your tongue and instead travels to the sweetness taste receptors on the back of your tongue. The Riedel Rheingau glass is thus used for meads that have a more acidic taste. The Riedel Montrachet glass (right) has a wide rim that steers the fluid to the acidic taste buds. This glass is used if you wish to emphasize the acidity of your mead in order to balance the taste. The I.N.A.O. glass (middle), commonly called the “all-purpose” glass, is generally used for any mead.
Sparkling meads should be served in glasses that hold 6.5 ounces or more and be narrow and tall to channel the bubbles in a continuous stream or be tulip-shaped (with a narrow mouth) to trap the aromas and bubbles.