There’s a disturbing trend going on: Stemless wine glasses! I gasp.
The purpose of the stem is manifold, but chief among them is that it keeps your hot little hands from heating the wine! You know that wine should be served at the right temperature, right? If you heat it up, the flavor changes! It does! And since wine should actually be sipped rather than guzzled, time in glass could certainly give your hot little hands time to change the flavor (gasp again) of the wine.
Think how much harder it is to swirl the wine without a stem! Why, I can imagine the spills and overthrows without effort! Swirling helps to aerate the wine, which is a good thing, so you really must do it. You just must.
Nothing serves to aerate your wine in a sexy and spill-less way better than the stem. In your hot little hands, the stem lets you swirl and tilt during conversation, in a way you just can’t pull off without it, and you don’t heat the wine, remember. Think about it: lean against the column and tilt the glass offhandedly (right) and just be cool while you chat. Can’t do that without a stem.
Now, nothing says you can’t guzzle your wine, or even tilt the bottle right up to your lips if you like. The world will keep right on going if you do. And I’m no connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I rarely drink wine unless I am having dinner with friends; and it doesn’t even have to be a great dinner. It’s the friends who count. Then, I enjoy red wine, mostly, and I can’t recite the provenance or sulfur content blah blah blah. I just like red wine, preferably Pinot Noir. And…okay, I’ll admit I’ve had wine from a plastic cup! Gasp again! You gotta do what you gotta do. But nothing…and I mean nothing…beats a beautiful wine glass, with thin glass rim, larger bowl than opening, and elegant stem. Nothing.
In other words, without the stem, wine glasses just aren’t cool.