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What Wine Glasses Do Sommeliers Use?

red wine aeration being poured into two wine glasses
8 min read

In any field, experts are the people you turn to for the most trustworthy advice. They are the most knowledgeable in their field and can offer the best recommendations. In the area of wine, sommeliers are the go-to people. Sommeliers are the experts in all things wine.  Beyond their understanding of the wine itself, they also know what wine glasses are the best for the ultimate wine and dining experience.

The Top Six Features that Sommeliers Look for in a Wine Glass

Sommeliers are experts on fine wine dining experiences, which means that sometimes the recommendations can be rather expensive. Although, they can also give more affordable options that won’t break the bank. In general, they will look for specific characteristics of the wine glass regardless of the price, including:

  • The wine glass should be lightweight. This means a thin rather than thick glass will be a checkmark in the sommelier’s book.
    • Thinness is a huge component that is emphasized in a sommelier’s recommendations. A thin lip is an indication of higher-quality wine glasses. If the glass is cheap, it may have a thicker glass lip. The thin lip allows for little interruption from the bowl of the glass to the mouth for the smoothest transition of wine to the drinker.
  • The wine glass should not chip or scratch exceptionally easily.
    • This may be counter-intuitive to the first point, but it is possible to find thin and strong glasses. For safety reasons, the glass mustn’t have any chips. Additionally, to view the wine without interference, it’s equally important that the glass does not have any scratches.
  • The wine glass should allow for swirling.
    • A considerable part of the wine tasting experience is swirling. Every wine connoisseur knows that swirling your wine is integral to aerating the wine to enrich the wine’s aroma and taste. Therefore, the shape of the wine glass must allow for swirling without fear of spilling.
  • The wine glass must enhance the wine’s aroma.
    • The key to this depends on the type of wine being tasted. If it is a red wine, sommeliers look for a wide bowl and a narrower lip. This allows for aeration of the red wine. In white wine, we want to preserve the flavor and coolness of the wine with a smaller bowl and a tapered top. These are fundamentals to aroma-enhancing wine glasses.
  • The wine glass should be visually appealing.
    • A visually stunning wine glass can add to the overall elegance of the wine-drinking experience. However, keep in mind that it is more important for the wine glass to be functional. If a wine glass looks incredible but doesn’t enhance taste, it won’t meet expectations.
  • The wine glass must be durable and sturdy.
    • Durability ensures that it has a practical use. The last thing a sommelier wants to do is recommend an expensive glass to someone that won’t be able to withstand much use. A good wine glass can be used for years to come.

 

What Wine Glasses Do Sommeliers Use for Specific Wines?

Sommelier Red Wine Glass Recommendations

Universal Red Wine Glasses

Perhaps you enjoy all types of red wine and don’t want to commit to a specific glass, or maybe you drink white wines as well and need to keep your glass collection under control. Either way, a sommelier may recommend a universal red wine glass as an excellent option. These glasses typically will be sized in the middle of the range between large and small red wine glasses. It will have a broader and taller bowl than a white wine glass to aerate the wine and expand its aroma.

eisch-all-purpose-red-wine-1
Eisch Superior All-Purpose Red Crystal Wine Glass
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Specific Red Wine Glasses

Depending on the body of a particular red wine, a sommelier will recommend a specific red wine glass. They will opt for a glass with a broader bowl for full-bodied red wines, which allows for more aeration. For lighter reds, sommeliers use a glass with a smaller bowl, which will keep delicate aromas concentrated.

Schott Zwiesel Burgundy Glass sits empty in a white background
Schott Zwiesel Burgundy Glass, Twin Pack
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Riedel Red Wine Glasses, Ideal For Cabernet or Bourdeaux
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Sommelier White Wine Glass Recommendations

Universal White Wine Glasses

A sommelier would recommend a universal white wine glass as an excellent choice for those not partial to any one type of white wine. Universal white wine glasses typically will be sized between a small and large white wine glass. The bowl should be somewhat short to bring aromas closer to the nose and a narrow mouth to concentrate these delicate notes.

eisch-white-wine-glass
Eisch Sky White Wine Crystal Glass, Set of 2
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Specific White Wine Glasses

Depending on the body of a particular white wine, a sommelier will suggest a specific white wine glass. For example, they’ll opt for a glass with a broader bowl for full-bodied white wines, which allows for more aeration. They’ll use a glass with a smaller bowl for lighter white wines, which will keep delicate aromas concentrated.

riedel-vinum-specific-white-wine-glass
Riedel VINUM Mixed White Wine Varietal Set of 4
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Sommelier Champagne Glass Recommendations

For a Champagne glass, a sommelier will look for a wine glass that will maintain the bubbles for a long time. This is the key to finding a good champagne glass.

 Universal Champagne Glasses

For the infrequent celebratory toast, a sommelier likely would recommend a traditional champagne flute. This is the tall, slender glass most commonly associate with champagne drinking. The small surface area helps to preserve the carbonation. A wider bowl and mouth, such as those found on red wine glasses, would allow the carbonation to dissipate too fast.

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Riedel Vinum Champagne Glass, Set of 4
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Specific Champagne Glasses

If champagne is your bread-and-butter or the wine world, or you enjoy a specific type of champagne, a sommelier will recommend the perfect glass to pair with each type of bubbly. For dry champagnes such as a Brut, a flute is best. For fruity champagnes such as a Rosé, a tulip glass with a broader bowl helps bring forward the floral notes. As the name indicates, a wide tulip glass is wider than a standard tulip glass. This helps to capture the subtle notes of vintage bottles. Lastly is the coupe glass, which is a vintage design with a large, shallow bowl. Counter to modern champagne glasses, this glass was designed to dissipate bubbles quickly and soften the taste.

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Libbey Glassware - Gourmet Tulip Champagne Glass
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Libbey Speakeasy Prohibition Era Coupe Glass, 7 oz
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Sommelier Dessert Wine Glass Recommendations

A true sommelier knows there’s a perfect wine glass for every occasion—even dessert!  Sommeliers look for petite sipping glasses to use for dessert wines. This is because dessert wines are both much sweeter than regular wines and much higher in alcohol content. The goal of the dessert wine glass is not to overwhelm the senses.

Universal Dessert Wine Glasses

For those only sipping dessert wines on special occasions,  a sommelier could recommend a universal dessert wine glass.

riedel-vinum-dessert-wine-glass
Riedel VINUM Dessert Wine Glass, Set of 2
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Specific Dessert Wine Glasses

Suppose you particularly enjoy a single type of dessert wine of a regular basis. In that case, a sommelier may recommend a specific type of dessert wine glass such as a port glass, sherry glass, or Madeira glass. Although each is relatively similar in size, their shapes vary. This helps to accentuate the subtly different notes in each type of wine.

The Best Overall Universal Wine Glass

If you’re short of space or sipping on a budget, you need one wine glass that can do it all. Look for a functional glass that checks off all six boxes on our list at the top of this blog. A universal glass will typically be sized somewhere between a large white wine glass and a small red wine glass to capture the best of both wine types. You can also drink champagne and dessert wine out of a universal glass, but these glasses aren’t optimized for either.

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ZENOLOGY by Wine Enthusiast Universal Wine Glasses - Set of 2
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Whether you’re dipping your does into the world of grapes, or you’re a long-time connoisseur, and whether you’re on a budget or expanding your crystal selection, sommeliers can guide you to the perfect glass.

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

Daniel Snow

Daniel Snow serves as the Vice President of Operations for Glass.com and is also a contributing editor. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from George Mason University and has a background in the real estate industry. After high school, Daniel even worked at a family-owned glass shop for a short period of time and is an Auto Glass Safety Council certified installer. In his free time, Daniel enjoys being outdoors, especially around the water where he can be found surfing, fishing, and boating. He has a passion for bringing old vehicles back to life and loves working with his hands to restore cars, boats, and motorcycles.

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