A Brief Summary on Red vs. White Wine Glasses

  • Wine glasses come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
  • Each type of wine has its own distinct type of glassware.
  • There are many styles of red and white wine glasses.
  • Although they seem similar, their slight variations make an enormous impact on how you taste and smell your wine. 
  • Serving your wine with its proper wine glass will help it taste and smell even better.
  • Having red and white wine‌ glasses in your glassware collection makes a world of difference when you’re ready to taste wine.

No matter if you’re just getting into wine, or studying to be a master sommelier, you’ll want to understand what makes red and white wine glasses unique from each other. To learn more about the qualities of red and white wine glasses and why they’re important, continue reading below. 

The Differences Between Red and White Wine Glasses

If you look closely, there are several unique differences between red and white wine glasses. These changes in shape, curvature, depth, and size are not just for looks. Each unique feature has a purpose that will improve the wine’s flavor and aromas. 

Two people cheersing their red wine

Although they may seem small, these subtle variations will be immediately noticeable when you taste your wine using its correct glass. Below are some of the key differences to look out for between red and white wine glasses. 

  • White wine glasses have smaller bowls than red wine glasses.
  • Red wine glasses have larger and deeper bowls that are more curved.
  • Red wine glasses have bigger openings.
  • White wine glasses have longer stems than red wine glasses.

Keep reading below to learn more about the key differences between red and white wine glasses and why these differences matter. 

White Wine Glasses 

If you compare a white wine glass to a red wine glass, you’ll see that the former has a smaller bowl. This is because white wines don’t have the powerful tannins that red wines do. To taste and smell amazing, they don’t need as much exposure to the air to brighten up their aromas. 

For the same reason, white wine glass bowls have walls that are less curved. This also creates less aeration, or exposure to the air, so white wines can preserve their more delicate aromas. 

white wine glasses on a tray

When you compare the openings between red and white wine glasses, you’ll notice white wine glasses have narrower openings than red wine glasses. This is to concentrate white wine’s delicate aromas right where your nose hits the glass. 

To give you even more concentrated aromas, white wine glasses have shorter bowls. This brings your wine closer to your nose so you can take in the wine’s more subtle aromas in one sniff.

The final unique trait of white wine glasses are their longer stems. We usually serve white wines chilled. A longer stem means your hand and body heat will be further away from the wine, keeping it nice and cold throughout your tasting. 

Red Wine Glasses

When you look at a red wine glass, the first thing you’ll see is a larger bowl. Red wine glasses have rounder and larger bowls that bring more air into the wine glass. This aerates the wine and lets the wine’s complex flavors open up. 

With their width, red wine glasses create more surface area so you can swirl the wine vigorously. This creates even more aeration, allowing the wine to open up even more in your glass. 

Person pouring red wine into a wine glass

Red wine is often served at room temperature. Because of this, red wine glasses usually have shorter stems than their white wine counterparts. The body heat from your hands won’t cause the wine to warm up enough to change its temperature significantly.

The one similarity between red and white wine glasses is the size of their bases. Because they usually hold the same amount of wine, they have the same base size to balance on a table. 

Common Styles of White Wine Glasses

Amongst all their differences, red and white wine glasses come in many styles. Each minute difference in shape and design enhances the qualities of each variety or red or white wine. Below are some common styles of white wine glasses. 

Lower Bodied and Acidic White Wine Glasses

These smaller and elegant glasses concentrate a zesty wine’s aromas into the center of the glass. When you drink wine from these glasses, you’ll get an immediate rush of refreshing acidity followed by the wine’s pleasant aromas. 

light-bodied white wine in a glass

Some examples of wines that work well in these glasses include sauvignon blanc, rosé, and dry rieslings. These glasses are also used for sweet dessert wines such as sauternes and late harvest rieslings. 

Full Bodied White Wine Glasses

These wine glasses are larger and have wider openings to let in more air. This lets more alcohol vapors flow past the nose, leaving behind the richer and more complex aromas that these full-bodied white wines have. 

Wines that express themselves well in these glasses are aged and oaked chardonnays, viogniers, and complex white blends. Don’t be afraid to use these glasses with any full-bodied white wine with high alcohol and depth. 

Sparkling Wine Glasses

These elegant glasses come in a variety of styles. Their designs capture bubbles and acidity and direct them to your nose and palate.

Sparkling wine glass

Wines such as champagne, prosecco, and cava are meant for these glasses. Examples of common sparkling wine glasses include the champagne flute, tulip, and the coupe.

Common Styles of Red Wine Glasses

Red wine glasses have large bowls and beautifully curved rims. These features are there to allow the wine space to open up and release its tightly wound or lesser desired aromas. 

Burgundy Glasses

Burgundy glasses are perfect for pinot noir and delicate light-bodied reds. The shape of their bowls helps circulate air into the bowl, which makes their delicate aromas pop out. 

Burgundy glass of red wine in front of a fireplace

Some wines that work well with these glasses include red burgundy, pinot noir, gamay, and other light-bodied and complex reds. Sometimes, aged full-bodied library wines and even champagne can really open up in these types of glasses. 

Medium Bodied Glasses

For wines with a medium body, these glasses work the best. With their slightly smaller and more compact design, wines with complex aromas, tannins, and less alcohol will express themselves beautifully in these glasses. 

Some examples of wines that work well in these glasses are cabernet franc, malbec, and merlot. Blends and old world wines, such as Rhône blends and Chianti, also express themselves beautifully in these glasses.  

Bordeaux Glasses

These classic glasses have iconic spacious bowls with beautiful curvature. This is to let the complex aromas of some of the world’s most complex wines swirl in front of your nose. 

Their larger openings let alcohol vapors and undesired aromas leave the glass. In their place are the beautiful and complex bouquets these wines are known for. 

These glasses deserve high-alcohol and high-tannin wines, like syrah/ shiraz, zinfandel, petit sirah, and cabernet sauvignon. Just like their namesake, bordeaux blends, especially from the left bank, do incredibly well in these glasses. 

Why Differences Matter

Wine is an incredibly complex drink. When you taste wine, you’re picking up on all its unique characteristics that make each color and variety distinct. 

Two red wine glasses

The differences between wine glasses help our senses pick up on the most subtle characteristics of wine. Because of this, these differences in shape, depth, and design are very important for serious wine drinkers to know and appreciate. 

Even if you’re just getting into wine or simply don’t care about the details, you’ll love how your favorite wines taste when paired with the correct wine glass. Having the right glass for your wine does wonders to improve your wine drinking experience.