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What Is the Best Glass to Drink Red Wine From?

large red wine glass being filled with red wine.
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If you’re like so many, you’re constantly discovering the delight of great red wines. And, if you’re like so many of us, you’re completely overwhelmed about the number of varietals (that’s wine speak for different wine types) and which glass is which and which glass is right for your personal enjoyment of red wine.

So, what IS the best glass from which to drink red wine?

That depends on the type of red wine. In this post, we walk you through the most common reds and great wine glass suggestions, but the subtleties are just that- subtle. The types of wine include:

  • Cabernet
  • Merlot
  • Bordeaux
  • Chianti
  • Pinot Noir
  • Red blends
  • and more

The experienced wine drinker or connoisseur would probably say the best red wine glass depends on the varietal. For most of us, the rule of thumb for the best wine glass for red wines is big glasses with large bowls so the wine can aerate or breathe.

Now let’s explore those subtleties. Grab your favorite red wine and whatever glass you have on hand, and let’s get started!

The Best Cabernet Sauvignons and Bordeaux Glass

red-wine-aerationCabernet Sauvignons

You may have heard someone refer to a Cabernet Sauvignon (Cab) as a BIG red. They are complex wines, and that complexity of aroma and flavor shines through with the right glass.

Tip: It’s best to allow the Cab to breathe before (and during) drinking to enhance the drinking experience. That means the best glass is one with a big (or wide) bowl and opening (or rim) that allows maximum air to enter the glass.

As a side note, larger bowls do not mean heavy glass. Heavier glass may be more durable, but it’s not the best for the wine nor the wine drinker.


Bordeaux wines are named such because they come from Bordeaux, a famous wine-making region located on the west coast of central France.  They are blends: Bordeaux wines include a high proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. Similarly, Bordeaux wines are also full-bodied, complex wines and require a big bowl.

Please do not fill bordeaux glasses to the top! They need air. Big bowls do not mean they have to be big pours. You’ll want to take your time with these wines and enjoy their complexities.

Tip: Make sure your wine is at room temperature, and for the Bordeaux, even slightly chilled is best.

Red Wine Glasses – Large Wine Glasses, Hand Blown – Set of 4
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We found this great glass that allows for ultimate swirling to open the wine. Swirling is fun, just don’t get carried away and spill the wine over the side of the glass. 

The Best Merlot Glass

Merlots don’t seem to achieve the status of Cabs and are not even close to winning in the popularity contest. But they share many similarities, including generating from the Bordeaux region and using a cabernet franc grape.  Here again, you’ll want to pour your Merlot into a wide-rimmed, wide-bowl glass, particularly if you’ve been advised it’s a bold bottle.

Many Merlots are medium-bodied wines and therefore suitable in any red wine glass – stemmed or stemless.

Tip: Try to remember to open your wine ahead of when you intend to drink it. This allows excellent reds to show their actual color.

Stemless Wine Glasses - Set of 2 Aerating wine glasses
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We love the ergonomics of this stemless glass, perfect for a Merlot but much more. This unique design will be a conversation starter even if the wine is not!

zinfandel-red-wine-glassThe Best Pinot Noir Glass

The name is derived from the French words for pine and black. Pine because the grapes are in tightly clustered, pine-cone-shaped bunches. And instead of black, the color is more of a garnet, not nearly as deep of a red as a Cabernet, Bordeaux, or Merlot.

Pinots are generally (with wine, there are always exceptions) lighter-bodied wines and more fruit-forward. Today, Pinots are perhaps the most popular of all of the red wines.

While the Pinot Noir grape is chiefly associated with France’s Burgundy region, Pinot Noir grapes are grown around the world, mainly in the cooler climates.

Tip: On the rare chance you don’t finish your bottle of Pinot Noir, cork it and put it in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to three days.

Fusion Air Pinot Noir Wine Glasses -Set of 4
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This glass set claims it’s specifically for Pinot Noir. We love the elegant lines, thin composition, and yet it is dishwasher safe. The manufacturer even provides a bit of their own glass tutorial on glasses for red wine. Check it out.

The Best Chianti Glass

Chianti is a dry red wine, produced initially in Tuscany, Italy. It pairs excellently with pasta and therefore is most often found in Italian restaurants.

The chianti bottle is perhaps the most iconic of all time. If you imagine a traditional Italian restaurant table, such as the one pictured on the cover of the Lady and the Tramp movie, you may conjure an image of a red wine bottle with a basket woven around the base of the bottle. This is a chianti bottle.

Traditionally, chianti bottles featured a woven basket around the base called a fiasco. Today, there are only a handful of winemakers that still decorate their chianti bottles with a fiasco.

Fun fact: In The Silence of the Lambs (1991) Hannibal Lecter is often quoted thanks to the following line: “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”

Orrefors Intermezzo Blue 20 Ounce Aroma Glass
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Chianti wines are usually light to medium-bodied.  Most wine professionals agree that you can serve Chianti in a universal or standard red wine glass or tulip glass. The tulip design enables the wine’s bouquet to develop longer, providing a great nose. However, this stunning glass will make any red – or even white wine – look and smell good.

Hopefully, with that Silence of the Lambs reference, we have not completely ruined your passion for learning more about red wines and what glass to use when drinking wine. The right glass can certainly enhance the wine drinking experience, but the most important thing is to enjoy your wines with good food and good friends.


Please note, this article may contain links to Amazon products. As an Amazon Associate, earns from qualifying purchases.



Amy Hennes

Amy Hennes is outreach manager for Key Media & Research , supporting marketing and communications and working to engage audiences with KMR’s industry-leading events and products. Before joining KMR, she was director of global communications for Guardian Industries, one of the world’s largest glass manufacturers. Find out more about Amy on Linkedin.

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