Nothing impresses people more than having a case-full of glassware and knowing how and when to use them.
Besides being visually appealing, the right glasses also play a crucial role in improving the taste and aroma of your drinks.
If you want to be the host with the best drinks and parties, read our list on glassware till the very end. To make your buying decision easier, we’ve also made a detailed guide on picking the best glasses for yourself.
So without further ado, let’s dive into it!
Table of Contents
- Types of Glassware
- Wine Glassware
- Beer Glassware
- Spirits Glassware
- Specialty Glassware
- How to buy great glassware?
Types of Glassware
Best for: Water and Juice
Tumbler refers to a whole category of glassware that have a stem-less design. They are also known as ‘water glasses’ and have become a conventional part of most households due to their safe and multi-purpose design. Interestingly, tumblers were named after their rounded bottom that caused the glasses to tip when set on a table.
But these days, tumblers are actually the least prone to falling over because of their flat, weighted base. Most of them have a tall conical wall that’s sometimes molded into different patterns and shapes. Because of their simple design, tumblers are also easier to manufacture and more affordable than other types of glassware.
Best for: Fruit Juices
Most people are familiar with the sight of an orange juice glass on breakfast tables. That glass is called a juice glass. It’s a type of tumbler, but shorter in height and with straight walls. They typically hold around 3 to 7 ounces of liquid on average, which is fewer than other tumblers, and are useful in reducing sugar consumption.
Many restaurants and diners use separate glasses for juice and water to cut down costs. While juice glasses are rarely used to serve alcohol or cocktails, low-ball and high-ball are utilized by bars for serving juice.
Best for: Milkshakes with Toppings
If you’ve ever been to the 90’s styled diners or milkshake parlors, you’re probably familiar with this glass. It has become the staple for serving chilled milkshakes loaded with whipped cream and toppings. Its tall and deep bowl has a huge capacity and looks spectacular with decoration as you can see each layer individually.
Even though the bowl narrows down towards the stem, the wide base of the glass keeps it stable no matter how heavy it gets. The stem is also extremely short and the base is hefty, which prevents the glass from accidentally tipping over. For anyone fond of milkshakes, this glass is a must-have.
4. Red wine
Best for: All Red Wines
When it comes to elegance and grandeur, few can compete with the red wine glass. It’s been around for several centuries and is one of the most popular glassware types in the world today. There are several design elements in the red wine glass, but the two most important ones are its long stem and wide bowl.
The long stem is to prevent your hand’s heat from impacting its temperature. As for the wide bowl and broad rim, they allow you to safely swirl the wine and encourage more air to enter the bowl. This aerating procedure is an essential part of drinking red wines as it lets the locked aroma and flavor notes escape.
5. White wine
Best for: All White Wines
The lighter, more delicate white wine needs to be served in its separate type of glassware if you want to savor its true flavors and aroma. It is very sensitive to temperature and has to be served chilled, which is why their glasses typically have longer stems and thicker bowls. This design prevents the heat from your hand and surroundings from affecting the wine’s temperature.
Lighter white wines have to be aerated gradually as they have a very subtle flavor. That’s why their bowls are narrower, which prevents excess air from coming in contact with the wine too quickly. There are many variations of the white wine glass, some more suited to full-bodied white wines, but the most common one is the Chardonnay.
Best for: Champagne and Sparkling Wines
A common sight at celebratory occasions, the flute glass is specifically designed to enhance the flavor and presentation of champagnes. Its narrow shape reduces the surface area of the beverage and prevents bubbles from fizzling out too quickly. This feature makes the flute ideal for serving carbonated drinks like champagne and sparkling wine.
You can also see bubbles rising to the top in its slender bowl, which makes quite a spectacle at grand events. Champagnes usually don’t need much aeration either, so the constricted rim doesn’t affect its flavor in any way. Moreover, the tall stem of the glass keeps the champagne chilled and makes it comfortable to hold.
Best for: Martinez, Sidecar, and Daquiri
Originally invented as the go-to glass for champagnes, the Coupe has recently become more popular with cocktails like Martinez, Daquiri, and Sidecar. It was invented during the late 17th century to serve champagnes and held the throne for several centuries. But during the 1900s, the glass was replaced by the flute because its broader bowl allowed bubbles to escape too quickly.
Fortunately, it regained its popularity soon after and became the go-to glass for serving cocktails at high-end clubs. The coupe does have a few design flaws, though, such as the tall stem that makes the glass prone to tipping over. But inside the hand, it’s perfectly safe and will effectively maintain your drink’s temperature.
Best for: Rose wines
Between red and white wine glasses, a third type of glass is used to serve rose wines called the Rosé. It’s also known as the Tulip glass because of its flared rim that resembles a flower. This rim design isn’t only for looks, though; it’s molded that way so the wine hits the tip of the tongue first and lets you experience the sweeter notes more vividly.
Apart from that, the glass is very similar to the glassware for white wine. Rose wines also taste best when chilled, so their glassware has a longer stem. The tulip glass allows quite a bit of air to make contact with your wine with its flaring rim, so if you don’t prefer aerating your wine, go for the tapered version of the Rosé glass.
Best for: All Beers and Ales
No beer lover could ever forget the sight of a condensed glass of pint filled with their favorite lager to the rim. This glass has different variations across the world, but the most recognizable one is the American Pint. It has a conical shape with straight walls and an exact capacity of one pint, which equals 16 US ounces.
Even though the design of the pint glass is extremely plain, it does have a few benefits. First, the broad rim prevents the foam from pouring over the edge. Second, the transparent and straight walls allow you to see the spectacular golden hues inside the glass. And lastly, it can hold a precise volume of liquid, making it ideal for bartenders.
Best for: Belgian Dark Ales, Tripel, Dubbel, Quadrupel
The Chalice (also called a Goblet) is one of the oldest forms of a drinking vessel and is commonly associated with religious ceremonies. Its design has been refined through different centuries, though the modern Chalice has a narrower bottom-end and a thick stem that steadies the glass on a table.
They’re almost identical to Goblets except for the narrower bowl, and can hold slightly more liquid than the latter. Throughout history, chalices have been mainly used to serve wine to the holy and royals. You can still use them to drink wine, but the glass has become more famous for serving Belgian ales.
Best for: All Beers and Ales
Have you ever seen a movie with Vikings enjoying beer from a giant wooden jug? That iconic jug is called a tankard and they are a delight to drink beers and lagers in. Tankards usually have a very wide and heavy base that makes it almost impossible for them to tip over, with walls that close-in as they go upwards to the rim.
The walls of the glass are also quite chunky, which helps with insulation and keeping the beer chilled for longer. Tankards are typically made with glass, but have also been crafted with pewter or wood in the past. They are quite similar to Steins in appearance except for the lid.
Best for: Czech Pilsners, Lagers
Pilsners are one of the most visually appealing glasses for drinking a beer. They originate from the Czech Republic and were specially built to serve the famous Pilsner lager. The glass has very smooth curved walls that taper down near the end and widen at the bottom.
Because of its narrow midsection, the glass provides an ergonomic grip, while its broad bottom gives it extra stability. The cylindrical shape also helps preserve the beer’s carbonation and retains its texture and temperature as you sip on it.
Best for: Scottish Ales
From its appearance, the Thistle looks like a luxurious version of the wine glass. However, it’s actually meant for drinking Scottish ales and other kinds of beers. Both its name and design are inspired by the Thistle flower.
The bowl of the glass has a spherical chamber at the bottom. From there, it turns into straight conical walls that broaden towards the rim, which makes it look like an old vehicle horn. Unlike most beer glassware, the thistle has a short stem and a wide base, which gives it a peculiar look. Safe to say, this is one of those glasses that you can instantly recognize at first glance because of its distinctive look.
Best for: Weizenbier and Wheat Beers
Weizen translates to ‘wheat’ in German, but it’s also the name of a glass commonly used for drinking wheat beer in the country. It resembles the Pilsner a lot except for the broader rim that allows more space for the foam to settle.
The wider rim also plays a crucial part in allowing the drinker to experience the Weizenbier’s true aroma. In terms of capacity, the glass can hold only a bit more beer than Pilsners. The Weizen glass has curves that make it easier to grip and a tall form allowing for a better view of its inside.
Best for: All Liquors and Spirits
Whenever someone wants to get a quick buzz on, the shot glass is always there for help. It’s a common piece of glassware that’s found in almost every bar. Because it can only hold about a sip-worth of alcohol, shot glasses are perfect for drinking hard liquors and spirits that might otherwise taste too bitter if drunk slowly.
This usually includes pure whiskey, tequila, vodka, gin, rum, and various types of spirits. In terms of design, the shot glass looks like a small cone with a wide mouth and flat, heavy base. Most shot glass has a maximum volume capacity of 1.5 ounces or 44 ml.
Best for: Old-fashioned, Aviation, Neat Liquors
Like the shot glass, lowballs are also famous for serving liquors and cocktails made with spirits, especially the old-fashioned. It’s usually served with no more than a shot-worth of alcohol, but has the space for ice cubes, so it’s more popular with “on the rocks” type drinkers.
When it comes to design, the lowball glass looks like a shorter version of the tumbler. Regardless, it still has straight walls and a heavy base that make it easier to muddle ingredients in before whipping them up into a cocktail. Typically, lowballs have a capacity of 6-10 ounces and various patterns molded into their walls.
Best for: B-52, Kamikaze, Apocalypse
When you’re serving shot cocktails, a larger glass like the shooter can come in handy. It has space for two shots, meaning you can mix your liquors with extra ingredients to get an even stronger buzz. Some of the most famous cocktails served in shooters include the Kamikaze, B-52, Apocalypse, M&Ms, and more.
In comparison to a shot glass, the shooter is identical except for being taller. Most of them can hold two or even three times the volume of a standard shot glass. You can find them at majority of bars and frequently at college parties.
Best for: Brandy, Whiskey, Scotch, Cognac
Snifters are designed for serving brown liquors with a rich and strong aroma. The glass belongs to the stemware category and is shaped to enhance the experience of drinking whiskey, brandy, and bourbon. Its bowl is designed with a broad midsection to increase the surface area of the liquor. This results in more aggressive evaporation and stronger aroma for the drinker.
Towards the rim, the bowl tapers down to trap the scent, so you can sniff the liquors’ notes as you drink it. Unlike wine glasses, the snifter also has a shorter stem as it’s meant to be cupped with your hand. This ensures that the liquor remains warm from the heat of your hand.
Best for: Single Malt Whiskey, Rum, Brandy, Calvados
The nosing glass is an excellent way to add a bit of sophistication and pleasure to your whiskey drinking sessions. Its design is similar to the snifter, except that the nosing has almost straight walls on the top that flare out slightly. This allows you to smell more of the vaporized liquor while sipping to make your drinking experience more delightful.
Generally, the nosing glass has a short stem and wide base that gives it stability. However, there’s also a variation with a taller stem called the Blender glass. It’s more stylish and can be used for other spirits as well. A stem-less version of this glass is also available, called the Glencairn nosing glass.
Best for: All Cordials
Cordial glasses have traditionally been used by the higher classes to serve liqueurs after a meal. They usually have the same capacity as a shot glass, making them an excellent way to reduce alcohol consumption while serving expensive cordials in limited quantities. Since the glass stands on top of a stem, it adds a ton of flair and elegance to dinner tables and bars.
Unlike the shot glass, cordial glasses have a flared rim and a board base so the glasses don’t easily tip over. Besides sweet liqueurs, these glasses have also become popular for serving rums, whiskey, punches, and other alcoholic beverages.
Best for: Grappa, Schnapps, Brandy, Tequila
Invented particularly to serve the Grappa brandy, these glasses feature a design that takes full benefit of the liquor’s fragrant nature and release its pleasant notes gradually as you sip. You can also deduce this by their shape, which is almost identical to the thistle glass. The bowl narrows down towards the middle and spreads out towards the rim.
It has a rounded bottom chamber that allows the brandy to vaporize graciously. So that when you bring the glass to your mouth, it can release the fruity and sweet fragrance. Another notable feature of the Grappa is its wider base that makes the glass steadier on tables.
Best for: All Liqueurs
Liqueur glasses are the more exquisite and lavish version of cordial glassware. Their application is the same; drinking sweet and expensive liqueurs and spirits after dinner. The capacity of the glass is deliberately reduced to encourage people to sip the liqueurs gradually and enjoy their true taste.
Even though liqueur glasses appear incredibly luxurious, they’re still somewhat similar to cordial glasses. The design is the same with a small bowl, albeit a longer stem than cordials. Sometimes, liqueur glasses also have a rounded rim instead of a flared one.
Best for: El Diablo, Mojitos, Americano, Dark ‘n Stormy
At cocktail bars, highballs are a common sight because of their versatile nature. They are a perfect compromise between the lowball and collins, making the glasses ideal for serving iced cocktails like the El Diablo and Mojito. You can fit a decent number of cubes in this glass while still having enough room for alcohol.
You can also call highballs a type of tumbler because of their stem-less design, tall walls, and heavy base. Typically, these glasses stand 6-inches tall and have a capacity of 8 to 12 oz. For people that want to serve cocktails and use the same glass for regular household usage, highballs might be an ideal choice.
Best for: Cosmopolitan cocktail
In the list of unconventional glassware designs, the Cosmopolitan is undoubtedly a top contender. It looks like a martini glass from the top, but has a stem-less flat base that’s almost as wide as a shot glass. The wide rim has the same function as any other type of glass — it allows as much aroma to reach the drinker’s nose as possible.
But the really thought-out part of its design is its lower center of gravity. This prevents the cosmopolitan glass from falling over and breaking. And honestly, replacing a pair of good cocktail glasses can be expensive. Besides that, the glass also gets extra marks for presentation and making a fantastic impression in front of guests.
Best for: All Martinis
Nearly every person can recall the sight of a martini glass with an olive sitting at the bottom. It’s one of the most iconic glassware designs of all time and can be found in bars worldwide. Before its invention, martinis were being served in cocktail glasses. But as their serving quantity increased, a larger and more conical version of the cocktail glass was invented for martinis.
Today, martini glasses typically hold around 3 to 10 oz of alcohol. There’s also a bigger version of the glass available with a capacity of up to 12 oz. One of the most iconic pop-culture references of the martini drink and glass is the “Shaken, not stirred” dialogue from James Bond.
Best for: All Margaritas
Amongst all types of glassware, Margarita glasses are known best for their unmistakable shape and fascinating origins story. Their bowl is divided into two portions; a bottom cone that is extremely narrow, and then a wider upper portion with straight walls.
Most bartenders use this wide mouth to stick some salt on the edges and place a slice of lime. This gives the tequila a stronger flavor and results in a more intense buzz. Many people believe the margarita glass to have been born out of an accidental delivery of deformed martini glasses, with others believing the story with Marie Antoinette.
Best for: Scotch, Bourbon, Brandy
If you’ve never drunk from a wobble glass, you’re missing out on a lot of fun and potential flavor. The main purpose of this unconventional design is to encourage more air to enter the glass. When more air comes in contact with liquor, its taste is enhanced and more aroma is released from the alcohol.
For most people, drinking out of this glass for the first time will be an uncomfortable experience as it always seems like it’s about to tip over. However, the broad base of the wobble glass makes it just as stable as the others. If you’re an avid whiskey or bourbon drinker, wobble glasses can make your drinking sessions more interesting.
Best for: Tom Collins, John Collins, Singapore Slings
Known for its tall and minimalistic design, the Collins glass is an ideal choice for serving drinks that go with lots of ice. This obviously includes the Tom Collins cocktail, which is poured and mixed over a pile of ice. Because of its capacity for ice, the glass has also become popular with Long Island iced tea and other cocktails like Mojitos, Singapore Slings, and Gin & Tonic.
Collins are the tallest type of glassware in the tumbler category and can stand up to 7 inches tall. They have rounded walls and can hold around 10–14 ounces of liquid. If you’re an avid drinker of cocktails on the rocks, a Collins glass might be the perfect addition to your glassware collection.
Best for: Zombie, Gin & Tonic, Dragonfruit Mule
The Zombie glass, which is technically the same as Collins, is used for serving a Tiki cocktail made from various rums. It has the same form factor, including a very tall height and dead-straight walls. While the cocktail itself was invented around 1934 by Donn Beach, the glass came later onwards.
Because of its massive capacity, the zombie glass can hold a bunch of ingredients and rums. This is ideal for Zombie cocktails, as they’re usually made with more than one type of liquor. Moreover, the relatively broad rim of the glass allows bartenders to add garnishes on top of the drink.
Best for: Hurricane, Cupid’s Hope, Tri-Star
Unlike most glasses that are designed for a specific function, the Hurricane glass is purely eye candy. The name caught on when a newly invented cocktail was served in glasses that resembled hurricane lamps. This coincidence set the name for both the cocktail and the glass we know today as the Hurricane glass.
Its tall and curvy body gives off a tropical aura, while the short stem at the bottom makes it look even more pleasing. When filled with a cocktail, the hurricane glass comes to life and enhances the rich color of its drinks. Its wide-mouth also makes space for extra garnishes like a slice of lemon or other citrus fruits.
Best for: Long Island Iced Tea
Majority of specialty cocktails are served in their unique glassware. For the Long Island iced tea, that glassware is the sling glass. The shape of the glass makes it instantly recognizable from afar — especially when it’s filled with the amber cocktail. It has a decent height and stands on top of a short stem, giving it that extra bit of class.
As for the bowl, it’s usually quite narrow at the bottom but broadens as you reach the top. Besides cocktails, the glass can also be used for drinking lagers because its wide rim keeps foam from spilling over. Unfortunately, these glasses can be a bit unsteady due to their tall height and narrow foot.
32. Irish coffee
Best for: Irish Coffee, Hot Toddy, Kentucky Hot Tub
Irish coffee mugs are an incredibly masculine type of glassware that give off a ton of elegance. They’re not very commonly used in bars, but where hot alcoholic beverages are consumed, there’s no better option than this mug. It offers the perfect balance between functionality and style, being made of heat-resistant glass and having a solid handle.
For style, the glass stands atop a mid-height stem and has a broad base for stability. It typically has a capacity of around 8 ounces and is also ideal for serving hot whiskey. Many bars also serve beverages like Hot Toddy and Mudslide Hot Chocolate in these mugs because of their versatile shape.
33. Poco Grande
Best for: Poco Grande, Piña Coladas, Blue Hawaii
Both Piña Coladas and Poco Grande are served in a single type of glassware known by either cocktail’s name. Upon first glance, many will confuse it with the hurricane glass. However, there are a few key differences between the two. One of them is that this glass has a wider bowl and is shallower than the hurricane.
Apart from that, the Poco Grande glass also has a taller stem. This prevents the cocktail’s temperature from being affected by your hand. You will often find these glasses in most households as their multi-purpose shape makes them ideal for serving a range of cocktails.
Best for: Whiskey Sour, Pilgrim’s Punch, Scarfes Issue, Diamond in the Rough
The Sour glass gets its name from being the perfect glassware for serving stronger or ‘sour’ cocktails. It’s similar to the coupe glass in shape, but is also incorporated with a flared rim for a very important reason. This curved rim plays a vital role in maximizing the flavor or the cocktail as it directs the cocktails to the tip of your tongue, which is the most sensitive part of your palate.
Hence, you’re able to experience the true flavors of the cocktail you’re drinking. It also has an ideal capacity since potent drinks are usually consumed in smaller volumes. Additionally, the tall stem and beautiful bowl of the glass give it a very classy and luxurious look.
How to buy great glassware?
Now that we’ve learned about all the different types of glasses, it’s time to face the real question; how do you purchase great glassware? To answer it, let’s take a look at the following factors:
1. Your usage
Before even worrying about the prices, the first thing you must consider is your usage. Glasses can be found in various shapes and designs, but we generally categorize them into three segments; Everyday, Stemware, and Barware.
As you can guess, Everyday glassware is ideal for daily usage and can be easily replaced. Stemware is more appropriate for serving wine on formal occasions. And barware is suitable if you have a cocktail bar at home or frequently have parties where you have people to impress.
You should also keep in mind that some glassware can be used interchangeably. For instance, you can buy a Collins to serve Mojitos and then use the same glass for drinking juice. That’s why you should always do some research and pick the glasses that are most versatile in terms of usability.
If you’re going for unique specialty glassware, remember that most of them are appropriate for a single type of drink. So only purchase those that you can put to good use.
2. Material of the glass
We all know that glassware is delicate and expensive. However, not all of them are built equally. There are several materials used to make glassware these days, each with its own properties and features.
Soda-lime is the basic and most common type of material used to make glassware today. It’s cheaper to produce than other types and has decent durability, making it ideal for daily usage. Tumblers you find at supermarkets and discount stores are usually made out of soda-lime because of these benefits. On the downside, it’s quite sensitive to temperature changes and can break easily.
The second most common type of glass is borosilicate. It’s typically used in manufacturing lab equipment and high-quality glassware. This is because borosilicate is resistant to extreme temperatures and is more durable than soda lime. It also retains the flavor of your drinks as it has very low solubility.
Finally, at the top-end you have lead glass, which is simply known as crystal. The glass is known for its brilliant shine and perfect clarity that gives off a very luxurious look. Crystal is also the toughest material of the bunch and is much thinner and finely intricated with designs during production. It’s perfect for wine glasses, champagne flutes, and other fine-dining tableware.
3. Ease of cleaning
When purchasing any kind of glassware, you must know how to clean and store them properly. There are two main ways of cleaning glasses; hand washing or using a dishwasher, each having its pros and cons.
Hand washing is our recommended method for washing glassware for several reasons. First, it prevents soap residue and cloudiness from altering the taste and presentation of your beverages. It’s also just a gentler way of cleaning and saves the glasses from clanging against each other.
On the other hand, dishwashing is a more convenient and faster way of cleaning your glassware. Unfortunately, it’s not suitable for materials that cannot survive the hot temperatures and vigorous washing cycles. Dishwashing your glasses can also corrode or leave streaks on them and dull their shine.
Soda-lime and borosilicate glasses can be cleaned by either method as they are sturdier and cheaper to replace. But when it comes to crystal, you will have to commit to hand washing as the material is extremely delicate and can break from the heat and clanking inside of dishwashers.
4. Price and cost of replacement
All glasses will eventually break one day, so staying within your budget is crucial if you want to avoid a major loss. When purchasing a glassware set, make sure you can acquire the most value for money from it.
You can do this by comparing their price with their estimated life. Many people have kids in their homes or get clumsy with their glassware. While others take special care when handling and storing their glasses.
If you think you fall in the first category, it’s best to look for more affordable options as your glassware is bound to get into accidents. On the other hand, if you belong to the second group, you can opt for more expensive options like crystal glasses.
What is glass made from?
The basic composition of glassware consists of 70 – 80% silica (also known as sand) along with other compounds. For example, soda-lime glass includes sodium carbonate and limestone, crystal includes lead oxide, and borosilicate includes boron trioxide.
How are wine glasses made?
Most glassware, including the wine glass, is made by blow molding. In mass production factories, machines blow air into the molten glass so they take the shape of the mold. Some experts make wine glasses using their mouth and shape them by hand. This is more common with crystal glassware.
Why are wine glasses filled halfway?
Wine is typically filled a third of the way so that there’s plenty of space to swirl it in the glass. This swirling process allows air to interact with the wine and release its aroma so that the drinker can taste it more intensely.
How do you identify crystal glassware?
Crystal is clearer than glass and produces a sparkle or rainbow effect when placed under light. It also makes a ringing sound when tapped, compared to the dull noise of glass. You will also notice that crystal is thinner and heavier than glass of the same size as its denser.