How Many Types of Wine Glasses Do I Need?


Good question! If you believe the ads from wine glass companies, you might come to believe you need a dozen different types of wine glasses. And although you can find some (very subtle) differences in the wine drinking experience by using different glasses, it’s far too subtle for everyday drinking.

Since most people are watching their budgets very closely, I’ll describe the minimalist approach to wine glasses.

Basic Wine Glass

Basic Wine Glass

If you only buy one kind of wine glass, get one with a large bowl where the opening is narrower than the widest part of the bowl. The glass volume should be somewhere around 20 ounces. Only fill the glass to the widest part of the bowl—about 5-6 ounces of wine. That size and shape allows you to swirl the wine and keep the aromas in the glass so that when you drink the wine, you get plenty of the esthers from the wine. As you may know, most of the “taste” of wine is mostly smell. So you want as much aroma as possible.

White Wine Glass

White Wine Glass

The one glass will work for red wine, white wine and even some semi-sparkling wines (such as Lambrusco). If you can afford a second wine glass, you can use the first glasses for red wine and also get different glasses for white wines. White wine glasses should be a bit narrower and more “tulip” shape (the opening about the size of the widest part of the glass. This keeps the relatively colder white wine from warming up too fast. You still want a large volume so you can swirl and smell!

Sparkling Wine Glass

Sparkling Wine Glass

If you like sparkling wine, flute glasses are common. These keep the wine in a narrow column to concentrate the bubbles—they’ll last longer that way. Although aroma is important for all wines, most people prefer to keep the sparkling wine bubbling as long as possible. Fine sparkling wine flutes also have a line etched in the bottom to make sure the bubbles have the imperfection in the glass required for them to form.

Other “specialty” wines (for example, Port, Madeira, Ice Wine, etc.) have their own glass styles too. However, your favorite wine glass will work just fine as long as you pour a smaller amount (about 2-3 ounces is one serving for most specialty wines).

Many wine glass manufacturers now make “stemless” glasses. Lots of people will debate whether a stem is good, bad or indifferent. In my opinion, wine glasses with stems are better for two reasons. First, if you hold the glass by the stem you’ll keep fingerprints off the bowl. Second, if you hold the bowl of the glass, the warmth of your hand may warm up the wine which affects its taste. This second issue is mainly a concern at parties where you hold your glass all the time. Dinner parties don’t usually have this issue.

You don’t have to mortgage your house to buy nice wine glasses. And for everyday wines, just one style will suffice. If you get the chance to go to a wine and wine glass tasting (where you can sample wines in different glasses) you’ll understand some of the subtleties a little better. But wine is best enjoyed with people so keep the glassware simple.

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  1. #1 by AndrewBoldman - June 4th, 2009 at 12:29

    I really liked this post. Can I copy it to my site? Thank you in advance.

  2. #2 by Ben Griffiths - May 26th, 2010 at 09:15

    i love to eat and drink exotic foods and delicacies from all over the world..”,

  3. #3 by Cheryl - March 26th, 2011 at 20:15

    You’re right about all the glasses! I never really realized how many. Great post. Thanks

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