It’s easy to get caught up in the assemblage of wine glasses, especially since there seems to be a specific wine glass to use for just about every varietal out there. 

“Don’t they just hold wine?” we hear you asking. While the main purpose of any wine glass is to carry the fine liquid you’re about to savour, it also serves as a vessel to bring out the best aromas and flavours of each bottle. Sure, you could always go with a stemless glass for more casual afternoon tipples, but for a night to impress, you should probably keep some glassware on hand.

If you’re not sure how to get started, don’t fret. We’ve pulled together a quick, simple beginner’s guide to wine glasses, as well as links to where you can get them for a fuss-free drinking experience ahead.

(Hero and featured photo by Polina Kovaleva from Pexels)

wine glasses
(Image credit: Zan on Unsplash)

The three main parts to a stemmed wine glass

The base: Sometimes referred to as the foot, the base of the wine glass is what keeps it steady and stable on the table.

The stem: The stem is what connects the base to the bowl of the wine glass. This is also the part where users hold the wine glass.

The bowl: The most important part of the wine glass is the bowl, the vessel where the wine sits. For the uninitiated, it might be the most intuitive to hold the wine glass by the bowl, just like how you’d hold a regular glass, but this will only heat the wine and leave fingerprint marks, so be sure to keep your hand on the stem instead.

Red wine glasses

Bordeaux/Cabernet/Merlot glass

Glasses for bold wines like Bordeaux, Cabernet and Merlots are just about the tallest ones you’ll find around. It’s designed with a large broad bowl that slightly tapers at the end, which allows the ethanol to evaporate with ease, which in turn smoothens the taste of the wine.

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wine glasses

Shiraz/Malbec glass

Shiraz and Malbec varieties of wine often come with more tannins and spicier notes, so the design of its corresponding glass helps to soften the harsh flavours. The tapered bowl works hand-in-hand with the narrow opening to trap the aromas of the wines so you can enjoy it to its fullest potential.

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wine glasses

Burgundy/Pinot Noir glass

Burgundy or Pinot Noir glasses are the widest and shortest variety in the red wine list. The broad design of the bowl enables plenty of air to come into contact with the wine, which in turn helps to accumulate the aromas of the wine while improving its flavour.

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White wine glasses

wine glasses

Sauvignon Blanc glass

Glasses used for Sauvignon Blanc or other light to medium-bodied wines, typically come with a mid-to-long stem, complete with a narrow bowl and slight tapering. The glass is crafted to encapsulate the subtle, delicate floral and fruity aromas of these wines.

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Chardonnay glass

Glasses for Chardonnay and other full-bodied white wines come with a much broader and larger bowl compared to the ones used for Sauvignon Blanc. The increased surface area is designed to allow just enough aeration to increase the concentration of the aroma while balancing the acidity and sweetness of the wine.

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Champagne and sparkling wine glasses

wine glasses

Flute wine glass

Flute wine glasses are the most standard types used for sparkling wine and champagne. They are upright, with a slim, narrow bowl that help to preserve carbonation and flavours.

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Coupe wine glass

Coupe wine glasses are less common these days, but they were typically used during the speakeasy era. The stemmed glass comes with a shallow, broad bowl which increases air exposure, resulting in a quick loss of bubbles and aromas. These glasses are usually used as cocktail glasses now.

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(Hero and featured image credit: Zan on Unsplash)

Jocelyn Tan
Jocelyn Tan is a travel and design writer who's probably indulging in serial killer podcasts or reading one too many books on East Asian history. When she actually gets to travel, you can find her attempting to stuff her entire wardrobe into her luggage. Yes, she's a chronic over-packer.