Whether you enjoy a glass of robust reds or crisp whites, wine glasses play an essential role in enhancing the wine’s flavor. Similar to the right serving temperature, the shape of the glass helps the wine reach its full flavor potential.
To help your wine collection shine, keep reading to learn about the different types of wine glasses.
Table of Contents
Components of a Wine Glass
Before we dive into the types of wine glasses, understanding the components of a wine glass can help you determine the best choice for your collection. All components of the wine glass serve to elevate your experience.
The base of the wine glass, also called the foot, keeps it balanced. There are wine glasses without a stem or distinct base, so the wine rests at the bottom of the bowl. Modern wine glasses feature a “sham,” which refers to a thick layer of glass beneath the bowl instead of a stem and foot. When buying wine glasses with a sham, inquire about the length of the sham. Stemless glasses with a thick sham are the best choice for enjoying a drink on the rocks.
The slender piece of glass that serves as a bridge between the base and the bowl is called the stem. You must hold the wine glass from the stem to ensure your wine tastes as expected. Firstly, holding the wine glass from the stem ensures your body heat stays away from the bowl, maintaining the wine’s preferred temperature. When holding the wine glass at the stem, you ensure your fragrance doesn’t interfere with the wine’s aroma. This is important because the wine’s scent is also partly responsible for its taste.
To hold a wine glass properly, hold it from the stem as close to the base as possible. Cupping the bowl or holding it from the rim is inadvisable.
The bowl of the wine glass is the vessel that rests atop the stem where you pour in your wine. The shape and width of the bowl affect the taste of the wine in many ways. A wine glass with a large bowl is desired if you prefer robust red wines. Bold reds include compounds such as ethanol and sulfites, which are unpalatable. Hence, wine glasses with a larger surface area can aerate the wine and diminish unpalatable flavors and scents.
Similarly, for white wines, narrow and tall wine glasses are preferred. These wines have a naturally crips flavor easily affected by exposure to air. Opt for a slender, narrow glass to preserve their flavor and bubbles.
The rim is the top of the bowl which varies in shape and size. The purpose of the rim is to direct the wine to your palate in a certain way. Narrow rims allow the wine to flow to certain parts of the tongue, reducing or enhancing specific flavors. For example, Champagne flutes have a narrow rim to enhance sweetness and reduce acidity. For wines with bold flavors and less acidity, a broad rim spreads the wine over your palate to neutralize strong flavors.
Types of Wine Glasses
The Cabernet wine glass is traditionally regarded as a red wine glass. These wine glasses have a long stem and a large bowl. Cabernet glasses serve to enhance the aroma of the wine with their large bowl. Additionally, the large bowl also ensures oxidization, which can soften the harsh tannins in the wine, improving the overall flavor and aroma. The aroma of red wine is a central aspect of the taste, so a larger wine glass helps complex flavors shine.
The shape of the Cabernet glass directs the wine to the center of the palate, which reduces the mouth-drying effect of tannins. Cabernet wine glasses are the best for Cabernet Sauvignon and bold red wines.
Burgundy wine glasses have a wider bowl than other red wine glasses. The rim is generally narrower than the bowl, and this wine glass has a distinctive fishbowl shape. These wine glasses have a wider bowl to hold the aroma and balance flavor intensity. The narrow rim of Burgundy glasses guides the wine to the tip of the tongue, which allows the drinker to take in the flavor of the wine slowly. All Burgundy wine glasses have a wide bowl, but the stem may be long or short.
Burgundy wine glasses are the best for lighter red wines such as Beaujolais, Dolcetto, and red Burgundy.
3. Pinot Noir
When looking for the Pinot Noir wine glass, you will find either of two designs. Many say the Pinot Noir is similar to the Burgundy wine glass, with a prominent wide bowl and narrow rim. While others say the Pinot Noir wine glass has a narrower bowl and narrow rim that extends outward. The wider bowl allows the wine to oxidize for enhancement of sweetness, while the narrow rim directs the wine to the center of the palate. The Pinot Noir wine glass is best for lighter red wines such as Pinot Noir and red Burgundy.
The Bordeaux wine glass is the tallest of all wine glasses. It has a wide bowl, but not as wide as other red wine glasses, and a tall stem. Compared to the Burgundy wine glass, Bordeaux wine glasses allow more oxidization when you swirl the wine up to the edge of the glass. Bold, full-bodied wines such as the Bordeaux taste best when swirled and allowed to breathe.
Since this wine glass is so tall, it also creates a distance between the nose and mouth, allowing you to enjoy the aroma of the wine without the harsh scents of ethanol and tannins. The glass directs the wine to the back of the mouth to enhance sweetness and minimize bitterness. The Bordeaux wine glass is best for red wines with higher tannins, such as Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec.
The Zinfandel wine glass looks similar to the Bordeaux wine glass, but is not as tall and has a wider rim. The narrow rim of the glass directs the wine slowly to the palate, so you can fully enjoy the rich and spicy flavors of the wine. The bowl is wide enough to oxidize to help dissipate the tannins and ethanol present in the wine. This wine glass is the best for medium to full-bodied wines that may or may not have spicy undertones. These wines include Zinfandel, Merlot, Shiraz, and Chianti.
While you can also use the Bordeaux wine glass for drinking Zinfandel, the narrower bowl and wider rim of the Zinfandel wine glass enhance the flavors of Zinfandel the best.
The Chardonnay wine glass has a wider bowl and rim. It is suitable for full-bodied wines such as Chardonnay, Viognier, and Semillon. Wine glasses for drinking white wine are generally more upright, with a narrow U-shaped bowl compared to red wine glasses.
The larger surface area of the bowl exposes the wine to air, allowing new and complex flavors to develop. In contrast, the large opening of the bowl directs the wine to the tip and sides of the tongue. Since white wines are generally sweet, the wine glass directs it to the palate in a way that you can fully enjoy the sweetness. With red wines, their bolder flavors are better appreciated when the wine flows to the back of the mouth. The Chardonnay wine glass provides just enough space to aerate the wine, concentrate its aroma, and balance its sweetness and acidity on the palate.
The Montrachet wine glass has a large bowl and a slightly narrower rim. It is the preferred wine glass for white wines with complex notes, like Meursault and Montrachet. The complex notes of the wine can be slightly heavy on the palate, so the large bowl of the Montrachet wine glass ensures enough aeration. With air incorporated into the wine, complexities open up to reveal the nuanced sweeter flavors that are characteristic of white wine. The large opening of the glass enables you to enjoy the aroma of the wine and guides it to either side of the palate. This way, you can fully enjoy the sour and acidic flavors of full-bodied white wines.
8. Sauvignon Blanc
The Sauvignon Blanc wine glass is suitable for light or medium-bodied wines such as the Sauvignon Blanc, white Bordeaux, Pinot Grigio, Vinho Verde, Loire, Fume Blanc, Muscadet, Muscat Blanc, and Chenin Blanc. These wines have fruity or floral notes, which are enhanced by the shape of this wine glass.
While red wines taste better when exposed to air, white wines can lose their crisp, bright flavor when exposed to too much air. The narrow bowl of the glass retains the bright and fruity flavors of the wine, while the rim guides the nuanced aromas straight to the nose. With its unique shape, the Sauvignon Blanc wine glass directs wine to the center of the palate, so you can fully enjoy its complex flavors without an overwhelm of acidity.
9. Sweet Wine
Sweet wine glasses are smaller in size with a narrower rim compared to other wine glasses. These wine glasses are suitable for Riesling Sweet, Gruner Veltliner, and other sweet wines. The smaller rim directs the wine towards the center and back of the palate, which prevents the sweetness from being too overwhelming.
These small glasses are perfect for an after-dinner drink due to their small size. Their small, compact shape ensures you enjoy the complex aromas and flavors of the wine without these qualities being overshadowed by sweetness.
There are two types of Rosé wine glasses that differ in appearance. You can choose a wine glass based on whether your Rosé wine is young or mature. Both glasses differ in the shape of the rim, but feature a long stem so you can enjoy the Rosé at a cool temperature.
If you have young, crisp Rosé at hand, opt for a wine glass with a flared lip. The flared lip directs the wine to the tip of the tongue, which is sensitive to sweetness. This enables you to enjoy the sweetness of the Rosé while minimizing acidity. If you prefer mature Rosé, a wine glass with a slightly tapered rim is a better choice. A short bowl with a tapered rim enables you to enjoy the complex, sweet flavors of mature Rosé.
Dessert wines have a high alcohol content, usually 20% ABV, so dessert wine glasses are much smaller. Port wine glasses are easily recognizable due to their diminutive size and look similar to a small Bordeaux wine glass. These wine glasses can hold six to twelve ounces of wine, but a smaller pour is preferred due to high alcohol content. The small size of the glass and its tall, narrow bowl ensure you enjoy its aroma, while your body heat encourages nuanced flavors. This wine glass directs the wine slowly to the center of the mouth to prevent overwhelming sweetness.
Sherry wine glasses are also small in size since it is a dessert wine with high alcohol content. These wine glasses are similar in shape and size to Port glasses. The long stem ensures that you can enjoy a cold glass of Sherry if you prefer, while those who prefer a warmer drink can opt for Port glasses. Sherry wine glasses direct wine to the back of the mouth for nuanced flavor and to prevent overwhelming sweetness.
Bubbles are important to enjoy a glass of sparkling wine like Champagne. The fizzy effect characteristic of young Champagne, such as Prosecco and Asti, is preserved when served in flute wine glasses. These come in either a straight flute shape or a trumpet shape, as shown in the image below.
Flue glasses feature a short to medium stem with a long, narrow bowl. This prevents the oxidization of the wine, which eliminates bubbles. A slight indent at the base, called the bead, causes bubbles to gather and rise upwards. This glass preserves the bubbles in sparkling wine while ensuring you enjoy its flavors to the fullest.
For young or mature Champagne, including Prosecco, Cava, and Franciacorta, opt for a Tulip wine glass. These glasses feature a short to medium-length stem and a tall, narrow bowl that widens then narrows at the rim. The bead at the base enables bubbles to rise, while the wideness allows deeper flavors to release with air exposure. The unique shape of this wine glass directs aromas to the nose instead of the mouth for an optimal drinking experience.
15. Vintage Coupe
A Vintage Couple glass is a stemmed wine glass with a short, wide bowl. Coupe glasses originally became popular as champagne glasses in the 1920s. Although they weren’t the right shape to hold the Champagne, since only a long, narrow glass can retain bubbles to maintain a sparkling effect.
Soon, bartenders began using the coupe glass to ser cocktails. To this day, they are considered a bar staple, where shaken or stirred drinks are served. Popular cocktails commonly served in coupe glasses include Daiquiri, The Martinez, and the Manhattan. Coupe glasses can also serve as an attractive container for desserts such as pudding or ice cream.
Stemless wine glasses are popular for their modern appearance and generous size. These are sturdy glasses that don’t break as easily as the stemmed kind. Stemless glasses can work for formal as well as informal parties. The glasses are also easy to clean, store, and look great regardless of their materials. The only downside to stemless glasses is that the wine can warm up easily. Since you hold the glass bowl in your hand, your body heat affects the temperature of the wine. You can serve Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Rosé.
When choosing a wine glass, the most important factor is its materials. All wine glasses use either of the following materials:
Crystal is stronger than glass and creates thinner but more durable wine glasses. Since this material can be spun very thin, a crystal wine glass has a thin rim that yields a seamless drink flow to the palate. Crsytal glasses enhance the tasting experience and the appearance of the wine by creating a sparkling effect through light refraction. Crystal wine glasses are generally expensive since they are a high-end option. They are a good option if you often host formal events at your home.
Crystal is a porous material, so you should hand-wash these wine glasses. You can check the care instructions to determine if your crystal wine glasses are dishwasher safe.
Glass wine glasses are great for casual events and bustling restaurants. These wine glasses may either be handmade or machine-made, with both types differing in quality.
1. Handmade Glass
Handmade glass, also called mouthblown glass, is made using techniques that are thousands of years old. Wine glasses made with handmade glass are more expensive than their machine-made counterparts. The creation of one handmade wine glass requires at least four artisans, with each glass being one-of-a-kind. If you don’t like the look of crystal glasses, you can opt for handmade glass wine glasses. While most of these wine glasses are dishwasher-safe, handle them with care and place them on the top shelf.
2. Machine-Made Glass
Wine glasses made with machine-made glass are casual, inexpensive, and easy to replace. The technology used for machine-made wine glass has evolved considerably over the years. In fact, it can be difficult to differentiate between handmade and machine-made wine glasses.
Since machine-made wine glasses are produced in large quantities, they are much more affordable than crystal or handmade wine glasses. Some machine-made wine glasses are high-quality, providing the same value as their more costly counterparts. Machine-made wine glasses are usually dishwasher-friendly, but read the care instructions to be on the safe side.
Acrylic wine glasses are the most durable and inexpensive of all. They are the best choice for casual events and large gatherings. These wine glasses can withstand drops and clinks without shattering. You can clean them in the dishwasher, so they are the easiest to use. Acrylic wine glasses come in a variety of shapes, colors, and styles at a small cost. If you often host casual parties, acrylic wine glasses are the best choice for you.
Although untraditional, stainless steel wine glasses are gaining popularity due to various reasons. Compared to glass alternatives such as plastic and silicone, stainless steel is more eco-friendly. While being cost-effective, it also doesn’t interfere with the taste of the wine. Stainless steel wine glasses can maintain the temperature of the wine, ensuring you can enjoy your chilled red wine with ease.
Although some might not like the look of stainless steel wine glasses, they fit right into a modern kitchen. They come in many styles, sizes, and colors, so you have various options.
Which type of wine glass is the best for red wine?
Wine glasses such as the Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Zifandel, Burgundy, and Bordeaux are the best for red wine. These glasses have a broad bowl and long stem, which ensures oxidization and helps good flavors and scents shine.
Which wine glass should I use for white wine?
When choosing a wine glass for white wine, opt for a Sauvignon Blanc, Montrachet, Chardonnay, or Standard Sweet wine glass. Their narrow bowls and rims ensure the crisp flavor of white wines is preserved.
Why are some types of wine glasses narrow?
Wines that have a crisp flavor or bubbles need a wine glass that prevents oxidization. To accomplish this, white wine glasses are narrower to retain the natural crisp flavor of white wines. Since there is less surface area exposed to air, the wine can maintain its crisp flavor.
What type of wine glass is the best for Champagne?
Wine glasses such as the Flute, Tulip, and Vintage glass are the best for Champagne. These tall and narrow glasses ensure carbonation and flavor by preserving the “sparkling effect” of the wine.