Wine Tips & Tricks

Choosing Proper Glassware for Wine

You can drink wine out of a coffee mug or mason jar or red sippy cup or even straight from the bottle, it doesn’t really matter, that is, if you’re in it to get tipsy. However, if you’re in it for the best tasting experience certain glass shapes work better for certain wines. Find out why and how to select the ideal wine glass for your personal drinking preferences. The information below isn’t really about social-cultural etiquette as much as it’s about how a wine glass controls the tasting experience and ultimate makes any wine taste better. And, if having the right glass is an important aspect of drinking better wine, then it’s well worth knowing!

“a wine glass controls the tasting experience”

The Importance of a Proper Glass

There are many different wine glasses to choose, but the fundamental shape is the same…

There is finally a piece of research out there that has shown us that glass shape matters. A study came out in February of 2015 by a Japanese medical group who developed a special camera that photographs ethanol vapors as they leave the opening of a glass. The reason why ethanol vapors are a useful thing to photograph is because this is how the wine aromas (aroma compounds) enter your nose.

Other drinks use the wine glass shape:

  • Top-rated Belgium ale companies developed custom wineglass-shaped glasses for their best beers.
  • Whisky snifters and brandy snifters for spirits have a very similar bowl shape.
  • Many high end coffee shops often serve coffee out of pre-heated wine glasses.

In the study , the wine glass shape performed the best for delivering aromas in a consistent ring around the rim:

Why so many different glass shapes for wine?

Answer: The many glass shapes for wine are because of the several different wine styles.

The best thing that you can do to make wine taste better is to select a glass that highlights your favorite style of wine. Below, you’ll see a summary of several glass shapes and wines that tend to perform very well in these shapes.

PICK A GLASS: See a brief questionnaire to find out which wine glasses are best for you.

White Wine Glasses

2 main styles of white wine glasses emphasize maintaining a cool temperature and/or delivering aromas

White wines are typically served in smaller bowled glasses.

  • Preserve floral aromas
  • Maintain cooler temperature
  • Delivers more aromas (even at cooler temperatures) due to proximity to nose

You’ll notice that full-bodied white wines such as oak-aged Chardonnay or Viognier, older white wines, orange wines and some vintage sparkling wines are typically desired out of a larger bowled white wine glass. This style, originally introduced by Riedel as a “Montrachet” glass , emphasizes the creamy texture in these wines with a wider mouth.

Red Wine Glasses

There are several styles of red wine glasses depending on the style of wine

Red wines are typically served in larger bowled glasses

  • Delivers more aroma compounds vs. the burn of ethanol from being farther from nose
  • Larger surface area to let ethanol evaporate
  • Wider opening makes wines taste smoother

The choice of a red wine glass has a lot to do with mitigating the bitterness of tannin or the spiciness to deliver a smoother tasting wine. We’ve noticed after a few years of tasting, that wines tend to taste smoother with a wider opening. Of course, the distance to the actual fluid seems to affect which aromas you smell.

Specialty Wine Glasses

You may find a reason to pick up a few specialty wine glasses depending on what you tend to drink the most. For example, the Port glass (shown above on the right) is quite small with a very narrow mouth so that it reduces evaporation (it’s a high alcohol wine).

SPECIALTY GLASSES: See more specialty wine glasses here.

More Articles:

Understand the difference between crystal glass and regular glass and find out which style works the best for you.
Crystal vs Glass When it Comes to Wine Glasses


Explore more styles of wine glasses and learn how to pick the best basic set (based on your needs).
What Types of Wine Glasses Do You Really Need?


Learn the trick to clinking glasses so that they’ll never break…and will make a cool “ding!”
Learn the Trick to Clinking Wine Glasses

About Madeline Puckette

I'm a certified sommelier and creator of the NYT Bestseller, Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine. Find me out there in the wine world @WineFolly