The debate as to whether there is a right wine glass for a particular wine is an ongoing one. Based on the premise that a wine’s taste alters tangibly when imbibed in different glasses, wine lovers either vehemently agree or disagree, while the rest of the casual wine drinking population looks on in bewilderment.

This guide is our attempt to answer that question. In short, yes, the type of glass does matter. You need to be savvy about your stemware pairings as the shape of the glass affects how the vapours from the liquid evaporate. This process influences its bouquet, and because your olfactory senses are crucial to how you taste, the shape of the wine glass changes how you perceive the flavours of your drink.

While there is scientific backing for this phenomenon, it does not mean you need to run out and purchase specific glasses designed for exact varietals in order to maximise your enjoyment of wine. This is expensive and superfluous. A good wine should be able to speak for itself, so you really only need a handful of glass styles.

Before we delve into when to use what wine glass, some basic guidelines should be followed:

  1. Try to get a wine glass with a stem. While novelty tumblers or spill-free wine mugs are appealing, a stemmed wine glass is preferable as it does not allow your body heat to warm the wine when you hold it, keeping its composition and flavours intact.
  2. Note that while crystal (more accurately referred to as lead glass) wine glasses are usually deemed as better, it is largely up to an individual’s needs and lifestyle habits. Crystal, as opposed to glass, has more clarity but is also more expensive and a tad harder to maintain, so make your choice wisely, and don’t buy a wine glass just because of its implied luxury.

Now, on to decoding what wine glass you ought to stock your shelves with, in descending order of importance.