Whether you’re a new wine drinker or a seasoned connoisseur, you may have noticed that there seems to be just as many shapes of wine glasses as there are wines. And, newsflash: there certainly is a reason for it all. While you’re free to drink wine from whatever vessel you’d like, certain glasses work well for certain types of wine if you’re actually looking to taste your wine. In this post, we’ll explain how to choose the proper wine glass for your wine—so you can look like a pro in front of your fellow wine drinkers.
White Wine Glasses
White wines should be served in glasses with smaller bowls (bowls are the rounded receptacles in which wine can be poured and held). These smaller glasses preserve floral aromas, maintain cooler temperatures, and express more acidity—all great attributes for bringing out the nuance in your white wine. Full-bodied white wines and orange wines are better with glasses that have larger bowls, while light-bodied white wines are better with glasses that have smaller bowls.
You can also enjoy rose wines in white wine glasses. Narrower bowls are better for bringing out the fruity aromas of rose, and glasses with long stems will help maintain the cool temperature rose should be sipped at.
Red Wine Glasses
Red wines should be enjoyed from glasses with a wide opening. This helps mitigate the bitterness of tannins and spices to deliver a smoother, more pleasant tasting wine. Use a large, Bordeaux glass (pictured as #1) for bold red wines. The large surface area of the glass lets ethanols evaporate so you can taste and smell more aromas (rather than the burn of ethanol).
The standard red wine glass (pictured as #2) is perfect for medium to full-bodied red wines with spicy notes or high alcohol content. The smaller opening of the glass allows spices to soften as the flavors hit your tongue.
Lastly, the aroma collector “Burgundy” glass is a great choice for lighter, more delicate red wines with subtle aromas. Its round bowl is the perfect shape for collecting and showcasing all the aromas of a lighter wine.
Sparkling Wine Glasses
Similar to still wine glasses, the shape of sparkling wine glasses will shape your perception of how different sparkling wines taste. Glasses with smaller openings and bowls are less expressive than glasses with a larger bowl shape. This means you should drink more affordable sparkling wine in a flute-style glass (which will hide flaws and make the wine taste more spritzy), and more expensive sparkling wine in a tulip-style glass (to bring out the nuance in the flavors).
Dessert Wine Glasses
Last, but certainly not least, port wine should be enjoyed in port glasses, which have a small and slender shape. The design of this glass brings out the fruit, oak, and spice flavors of port wines, and lessens its heavy alcohol flavors.
For ice wines and dessert wines, use a dessert wine glass with a highly tapered rim. This rim makes for easy swirling, and helps to keep the wine to air ratio balanced. This glass also emphasizes the acidity of the wine, preventing its sweetness from being overwhelming.
Overall, there are countless options of glasses to choose from for consuming your wine—a few glass manufacturers even offer “universal glasses,” a good option for practical wine enthusiasts who don’t want to bother with all the different wine glass shapes. However, if you’d like to show off your wine knowledge, or appreciate the best, most detailed flavors in your wine, we recommend choosing glasses that suit your wine. We hope you learned a thing or two about choosing proper stemware in this post. Happy sipping!