Originally Posted by jasonpraxis
Out of curiosity, what's the verdict on the (seemingly countless number of ) special glasses for liquors like Scotch, bourbon, whatever? I'm no hardcore connoisseur, but if I'm paying top dollar for my booze is it worth my while to pick up a dedicated glass or two?
In my opinion, yes. However, you'll have to experiment to find the right match of stemware for your own personal tastes. I have stemware for champagne, brandy, red wine, and white wine. I personally can't taste the difference between the vinums I have for red and white wine (syrah vs. sauv blanc) -- although I am far from a typical wine enthusiast. The sommeliers are significantly thinner (hand blown crystal) than the vinums (machined), which has a noticeable affect on the aroma of the alcohol, and, unfortunately, on the chipping as well. I rarely drink champagne, so opted for the sommeliers (as a few others have suggested) ... to savour those special occasions.
As brandy and armagnacs are my staple, I have both the vinum snifters and the sommelier cognac xo's. I expected to use the vinums for the brandy that I drink and to reserve the cognac xo's for the more aromatic armagnacs, however, despite the recommendation of Riedel, I personally find the vinum snifters more enjoyable for my armagnacs. They deliver a much fuller aroma, and simply feel better in my hands. The downside is that the first scent billowing forth from the great bowl of the brandy snifter can occasionally singe my nose-hairs. Sure, this is resolved with the dainty bowl of the xo's, but the cost is a very noticeable muting in aroma (and consequently perceived taste) throughout the remainder of the drink. Here I can very clearly taste the difference delivered by the same alcohol through two different glasses (and, fortunately for me, I prefer the cheaper option).
So, this was a rather long-winded answer, but I hope it helps. Take the time to sample the glasses, and to decide the style that works best for you.
Oh, and as for the O-series? I used to detest the line as an abomination, but during a recent outing I enjoyed a caipirinha served to perfection in one of the o-series glasses (I believe it may have been the sommeliers stemless tasting glass, actually, but similar to the O-series style). I found it a very classy touch for a mixed drink, but would otherwise avoid the line.