Pull the cork out of a bottle of wine and listen: That satisfying sound marks the beginning of what could well be the best part of the day—all you need is a couple of glasses. From a humble tumbler to a rarefied crystal chalice, there are almost as many wine glasses on the market as there are varieties of wine. But is the choice of glassware an essential step in proper wine enjoyment or just another snooty obsession?

The Austrian company Riedel pioneered the design of stemware for particular wine varieties in 1961, and since then has engaged (along with many other companies) in unbridled shape proliferation. But would a relative wine novice be able to tell the difference?

As a mostly self-educated wine lover of modest means, I’m willing to spend a little cash to deepen my appreciation of the occasional splurge on a $20 pinot. But to spend a ton of money to fine-tune my slurp of every varietal, I need proof. So I sought out some professionals.