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The proper serving of wine is an art to perfect. Every wine connoisseur knows that different wine glasses serve unique purposes for the wine it holds. Knowing these differences will help you enhance the experience of wine sipping for you and your guests.

Anatomy of the Wine Glass

A basic lesson on the terminology of wine glass’ components will help further discussion of the differences. First, let’s break down some terms:

  1. The base: The base is the bottom of the wine glass, which helps with the stability of the piece.
  2. The stem: This component lengthens the wine glass and gives the person’s hand a place to hold the glass without increasing the temperature of the wine.
  3. The bowl: The bowl is the most important part of the wine glass, and for a good reason. First and foremost, the bowl’s shape and size are meant to keep the wine within the glass when swirled without spilling any of the contents. The bowl’s size and shape also affect the aroma of the wine.
  4. The rim: The very top of the bowl is the rim of the wine glass. This contributes to the drinking experience through the thickness of the glass. The thinner the rim, the less distracting it is for the drinker. If the glass is thick, the smooth transition from the glass to the mouth is lost, and this is an indication of cheapness.

The Types of Wine Glass Matters

Another important component of the differences among wine glasses is what they are made of. There are two usual options: crystal and glass.

Crystal wine glasses are more expensive than glass wine glasses and must be washed by hand. They are quite delicate, which makes them easily breakable, but the delicate look adds an elegant touch to a dinner party or fancy gathering.

Glass wine glasses are the more durable option that won’t break as easily or put a dent in your bank account. They are dishwasher safe and great for more casual environments. Glass wine glasses do not perform as well in enhancing a wine’s flavors compared to crystal, but they get the job done at a cheaper cost.

Red Wine Glasses versus White Wine Glasses

Red Wine Glasses

Red wine is bolder and more full-bodied than white wine and therefore needs a specific type of glass. Red wine needs the ability to interact with the air to release the aroma better. Therefore, red wine is best suited to a large, round bowl with a big opening to provide the greatest room for air into the glass to smoothen out the complex flavors. The large opening also allows you to access the aroma easily with your nose.

On one end, a Bordeaux glass is a large red wine glass with a big opening that helps you receive the wine across your entire palate for an intense wine tasting experience. A Bordeaux glass is best for smoothing out the bitterness of high-tannin and high-alcohol wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon.

On the other side of the spectrum, a Burgundy wine glass is wonderful for light reds such as a Pinot Noir or Dolcetto. This type of glass also has a large bowl, but it narrows towards the top to keep the wine concentrated to the tip of your tongue.

 Our favorite red wine glasses:

Schott Zwiesel Burgundy Glass sits empty in a white background
Schott Zwiesel Burgundy Glass, Twin Pack
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riedel-bordeaux-glass
Riedel VINUM Bordeaux Glasses, Set of 2
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White Wine Glasses

White wine is served a little differently. It is served in a smaller, narrower, U-shaped glass that enhances the aroma of the white wine. The wine glass is smaller so that you can bring your nose closer to the wine since white wine has a lighter aroma. Another difference in the glass is that the stem is longer in order to maintain the cooler temperature of white wine. The further the hand is from the glass, the less likely that the body heat will warm the white wine.

The Sauvignon Blanc glass that is perfect for (you guessed it) Sauvignon Blanc, and other high-acidity wines. This glass is also a great choice for similar light to medium body wines as well as floral or fruity wines such as Pinot Grigio. On the other hand, a white wine such as Chardonnay would be better in a glass for a full-bodied wine that has a wider opening.

 Our favorite white wine glasses:

schott-zwiesel-white-wine-glass-tritan
Schott Zwiesel Full White Glass, Set of 8
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Zalto Denkart White Wine Glass sits empty against a white background
Zalto Denk'Art White Wine Glass
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Additional Wine Glass Types

Who could forget dessert wines? These high alcohol content wines are best suited to a smaller glass because of the alcohol content. Glasses for dessert wine typically lead the wine to the back of the mouth in order to fully taste the sweetness of the wine. An example of a wine glass for dessert wine is the Port wine glass. This is perfect for Port wine, but also any other dessert wines because it has a narrow opening that consolidates the aroma within the glass. Although smaller than a normal wine glass, you don’t have to worry about it being too short that you can’t swirl the wine. The shape is designed to allow the sipper to swirl and smell.

Our favorite dessert wine glasses:

riedel-vinum-dessert-wine-glass
Riedel VINUM Dessert Wine Glass, Set of 2
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purismo-dessert-wine-glass
Purismo Dessert Wine Glasses Set of 4 by Villeroy & Boch - 8 Ounce
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Sparkling wine is another one we can’t forget. The beverage is often served in a flute glass that features a tall, narrow bowl for the purpose of making the bubbles last as long as possible. The flute wine glass can hold any sparkling wine or champagne.

 Our favorite champagne glasses:

orrefors-premier-champagne-flute
Orrefors Premier 10 oz. Champagne/Flute Stemware, Set of 2
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riedel-vinum-champagne-glass-set-4
Riedel Vinum Champagne Glass, Set of 4
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Universal Wine Glasses

If buying many different types of glasses is not the route you would like to take, there are, of course, all-purpose wine glass options for you. Sometimes you don’t have the space for a bunch of different wine glasses, and you’d rather have one type that gets the job done for any type of wine. An all-purpose wine glass is a great option for someone who prefers efficiency and a less expensive option. You have two choices here:

  1. Stem glasses that have a bowl shape that is in between that of a red wine and a white wine glass shape. This makes it usable for either wine.
    or
  2. Stemless glasses are the same bowl size as the stem glass bowl, but it is more suited to red wine. It is better suited to red wine due to temperature being less of a factor for red wine when compared to white wine. Unfortunately, the cooler temperature of white wine may not be able to be maintained with a stemless glass. Although, it is nothing that can’t be fixed with an ice cube or two.

 Our favorite universal wine glasses:

wine-enthusiast-universal-wine-glass
Fusion Air by Wine Enthusiast Go-To Universal Wine Glasses - Set of 4
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Zalto Denkart Universal Wine Glass sits in a white background
Zalto Denk'Art Universal Wine Glass Hand-Blown Crystal
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Whichever you choose, you are sure to appreciate the experience and taste of wine a little more with the knowledge you’ve gained. Glass.com has an assortment of high-quality wine glasses for your choosing. Check out our best-selling wine glasses below.  Let us know what glass you find works best for you and your wine!

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

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Isabella Taffera

Isabella Taffera is an author for Glass.com

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