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Why is a Red Wine Glass Bigger?

bordeux red wine glass being filled as it sits on a wooden table
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You may have heard wine experts recommend that you drink red wine from a red wine glass. This can leave you wondering why precisely that is and why a red wine glass looks bigger than other wine glasses. This knowledge will be vital to enhancing your wine-drinking experience in the future.

Characteristics of A Red Wine Glass

A red wine glass is traditionally a wine glass with a large bowl and wide rim. If you see a glass that looks this way, recognize that it is used for red wine and not for lighter white wines.

Why are Red Wine Glasses So Large?

Red wine glasses are large to enhance the flavor and experience of red wine in two major ways:

1. Surface Area

The first reason the red wine glass is bigger than other wine glasses is to create more surface area. The largeness of the bowl is a feature that helps the red wine breathe and release its delightful aroma. The rounder bowl and larger opening at the rim help the wine to aerate, which helps open up the flavor and aroma of the wine.

If the wine was not in a large enough glass, a “closed aroma” could happen. If a wine has a closed aroma, it means that it has the potential to be a full and aromatic wine, but it cannot interact enough with the oxygen in the air to develop the flavor and aroma well enough. Therefore, a closed aroma can be avoided by using a large red wine glass.

2. Oxidation
The second reason that the red wine glass is bigger than other wine glasses is that the red wine needs to interact with the oxygen in the air as much as possible. This interaction with oxygen is called oxidation. Oxidation helps the wine undergo chemical reactions that bring out its complex flavors. Proper oxidation will allow the drinker to taste and smell the flavor notes of the red wine without the intense smell of the alcohol.

People often aerate their wine to embolden its full flavor. This is done by swirling the wine in the glass. Swirling is a vital to do with red wine. The red wine glass is large enough for swirling to be done successfully without wine spilling out.

Red Wine Glass Size vs. White Wine Glass Size

White wine does not need a large glass to release its aromas. In fact, it needs a smaller glass to maintain a cooler temperature. Red wine doesn’t need to be held at a cooler temperature the way white wine does. White wine also requires a smaller bowl to preserve the more subtle flavor and aroma of the wine. The white wine glass also has a shorter bowl for this reason. To be able to pick up the more nuanced notes, the drinker’s nose must be brought closer to the wine.

Additionally, sparkling wine needs a smaller glass, like a flute, that will maintain the carbonation bubbles. All in all, the red wine glass is larger because it serves the best function for the wine it holds. A red wine drinker does not have to worry about maintaining a cooler temperature or keeping bubbles bubbling.

Examples of Red Wine Glasses

These glasses are go-to’s for red wine drinking. They are large enough to enhance the aroma and flavor of red wine to add to the wine-drinking experience.

The Bordeaux Glass

The Bordeaux glass is structured in a way to increase the surface area of the red wine. This glass is taller than a Burgundy glass which helps with swirling the full-bodied wine. When swirling in this glass, the glass facilitates the aeration of the wine for full aroma potential without spilling red wine. The Bordeaux glass is best for red wines high in tannins and higher in alcohol content, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Riedel VINUM Bordeaux Glasses, Set of 2
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The Burgundy Glass

The Burgundy glass is the largest red wine glass of them all. This glass is a shorter red wine glass with a larger bowl. It is a great glass for light, full-bodied reds like Pinot Noir and Dolcetto because it enhances contact with the air to develop lighter aromas. The features of the Bordeaux glass lead the wine to the tip of the tongue to catch the delicate flavors.

Schott Zwiesel Burgundy Glass sits empty in a white background
Schott Zwiesel Burgundy Glass, Twin Pack
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The Cabernet Glass

The cabernet glass is suited for any of your red wines. The Cabernet glass is referred to as the universal red wine glass. This glass features a tall stem and a large bowl for proper air contact. It enhances the aromas of all red wines because of its ability to increase surface area and aromas.

Bormioli Rocco Riserva Cabernet, 12 ½ oz
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The Universal Wine Glass

The universal wine glass is an excellent option for both red wine and white wine. The size of this all-purpose glass is relatively between the size of a Chardonnay glass and a smaller red wine glass. It is not specific to red wine, but it is large enough to oxidize the red wine and enhance its aroma. Of course, it is not as large as a Burgundy glass and therefore won’t interact with as much air. Although, if you don’t want to buy specific wine glasses for different wines, this glass can highlight the complexities and flavors of any wine of your choosing. If you’re looking to save some money, this is a great choice for you.

Fusion Air by Wine Enthusiast Go-To Universal Wine Glasses - Set of 4
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If you’re a red wine drinker, you would greatly benefit from the style of large wine glasses. has a prime collection of red wine glasses that will deliver an aromatic and flavor-enhancing experience.

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



Isabella Taffera

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