Types of wine glasses, and when to use them

Enjoying a good wine depends on many factors, but undoubtedly one of them is the glass we use. Here we’ll explain the different types of wine glasses that can be found, and the ideal wine for each one.

Wine Glasses: Everything you Need to Know

Thanks to wine glasses, a wine’s aromas and flavors can be fully appreciated. Wine contains between 400–500 volatile and aromatic substances, which is why the glass is so important, since it can help maintain these substances and better show the character of a wine and its aromas. The same wine can be completely different depending on the kind of glass used to taste it.

1 | Red wine glasses

To drink red wine, glasses with a wider bowl are most often used, allowing you to better appreciate the bouquet of the wine. Red wine glasses are larger than white wine glasses, allowing you to better appreciate the aromas. This is due in large part to the fact that the more intense flavors and aromas require more space, in order for the wine to have increased contact with oxygen.

The glasses we most frequently find in this category are:

-Burgundyideal for red wines with body, high acidity and moderate tannin. Barbaresco, Barbera, Barolo, Burgundy (red), Gamay, Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir.

-Bordeauxfor young, full-bodied and complex red wines. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Rioja and Tempranillo.

-Shiraz / Syrah: ideal for wines with good body on the palate, pronounced structure, and a long finish. Amarone, Blaufrankisch, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Grenache, Hermitage rouge, Malbec, Mourvedre, Pinotage, Shiraz, Syrah.

Photo: Riedel

2 | White wine glasses

White wine glasses have a longer stem so the wine is not affected by the nearness of the heat of your hand when you hold it. And the bowl is smaller, longer and narrower than red wine glasses, helping to keep the wine cool, since white wines are generally served chilled, to better appreciate them.

Despite these characteristics present in the majority of white wine glasses, there is one glass that does not fit this mold, and that is the Montrachet / Chardonnay glass, whose bowl is very wide with a lip that curves inward, to better channel and appreciate the aromas.

We can find different types of glasses for white wines, among them:

-Sauvignon Blancideal for wines of lanc fume, Fume blanc, Rotgipfler, Sancerre, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Spatrot-Rotgipfler, Zierfandle.

-Montrachet / Chardonnayfor white wines fermented in oak. Burgundy (white), Chardonnay (oaked), Corton-Charlemagne, Meursault, Montrachet, Morillon (oaked), Pouilly-Fuissé, Riesling (Spätlese / late harvest dry), Riesling Smaragd, Smaragd, St. Aubin.


Photo: Riedel

3 | Sparkling wine glasses 

Glasses for sparkling wine are tall and refined. The narrowness maintains the carbonation of the wine and enables you to better appreciate its flavors. The long flute shape gently opens towards the mouth of the glass, facilitating the formation of bubbles at the top.

Among sparkling wine glasses, there are two sub-types. The first is the wide-mouthed glass, also known as a coupe or pompadour, often used to serve sparkling wine cocktails. The other type is the flute, which has a bit more style, and maintains the bubbles for longer. These glasses are used for sparkling wine tasting. If it’s a high-end sparkling wine, the recommendation is also to use a white wine glass for tasting.

The flute is the best known and most widely used glass for this kind of wine. One of its characteristics is the long stem, which helps when holding the glass without affecting the temperature. Additionally, the form means you can better appreciate the bubbles as they rise to the top.

Photo: Riedel

4 | Sweet wine glasses 

These glasses must be smaller, in order to guide the wine to the back of the mouth. You must also keep in mind that like other sweet liqueurs, these wines have a higher alcohol content, so small glasses help regulate the serving size.

Photo: Riedel

Things to considered when choosing Wine Glasses

There are certain elements that influence the quality of a glass, among them the size, shape, stem, diameter of the border, and the crystal.

  • The size of the glass influences the quality of the wine’s perception of the intensity of the aromas.
  • The shape should be convex, or tulip-shaped, with a border that leans inwards in order to channel and maximize the aromas. The form varies depending on the variety of wine you are drinking.
  • The stem should be long enough for you to be able to hold the glass without touching the bowl, since you can change the temperature of the wine with your hand.
  • The with of the borderdefines the inclination of the head at the moment of tasting. The angle of drinking helps with identifying different flavors of the wine on distinct parts of the tongue, activating the sensory receptors found there.
  • The glass, whose width can affect the wine. A crystal wine glass is thin and colorless, offering a better view of the wine, and also allows the aromas to gather for a longer period of time.