Toro wines are some of Spain’s most distinctive reds: Powerful, full-bodied and complex, with intense fruit flavours and grippy tannins. Mostly produced from the Tinta de Toro variety, known elsewhere as Tempranillo, the wines nonetheless have a character that is all their own. Toro wines have a unique profile that is entirely different from other big red wines like Bordeaux and Australian Shiraz. In order to make the most of this, sommeliers like to serve these wines in a special Toro glass.
What is a Toro glass?
Unless you are in the Toro region, you may not explicitly hear reference to a Toro glass. More likely, you will hear about a Tempranillo glass or a Tinto Reserva glass. Whatever you call it, this is a purpose-built piece of stemware that is designed to accentuate the unique properties and flavours of Toro and other Tempranillo-based wines. Colloquially it could be called a Toro glass, Rioja glass or Ribera del Duero glass, depending on where in Spain you are.
The glass is a large red wine glass, with a wider bottom and more narrow lip. The exact size of the glass can vary, as leading glassmaker Riedel offers slightly different sizes based on the age of the wine:
- Riedel Vinum Tempranillo is a smaller glass intended for younger wines, that have had little to no oak ageing.
- Riedel Sommeliers Tinto Reserva is a glass with a larger, though identically shaped, bowl and is intended for Toro and other Tempranillo wines that have undergone longer oak ageing.
Why Toro tastes better from a Toro glass
Wine tasting involves sight, smell and taste. The Toro glass accentuates the properties of the Toro wine in each aspect of this, ensuring that the wine tastes the best it possibly can.
- Visually, the large bowl and high quality crystal glass allows you to observe the brilliant ruby colour of the wine itself.
- The bowl curves at the top in a more extreme way than other red wine glasses. The lip is narrower than the bottom of the bowl. This condenses all the complex aromatics inside the glass, giving you a gorgeous concentration of red fruit and berry notes to savour.
- The large bowl enables the wine to interact with oxygen, to soften out the tannins particularly associated with oak-aged Toro and Tempranillo wines. This ensures that on the palate the wine is less harsh and that you can savour the flavours without any overpowering oak, wood or excessive tannin.
Three Toro wines to enjoy in a Toro glass
All this Toro talk has made us thirsty, so let us recommend three of the best Toro wines to enjoy in a Toro glass.
- Pintia 2010 will envelop your Toro glass with beautiful aromas of wild blackcurrant, blueberry and some well-integrated oak.
- Numanthia 2010 should be decanted before serving, but when it comes to life it will explode inside the glass with powerful fruit aromas and a hint of oak.
- Teso la Monja 2009 is surely a cult wine within the Toro region. This bottle alone – and its 99-point score from Guía Proensa – is reason enough to go out and buy a Toro glass or two!
Do you own any Toro glasses or other specialty wine glasses? What are your favourite wines to drink from their own special glasses?