A Brief Summary

  • Wine glasses come in a variety of shapes and sizes that all have a unique purpose.
  • There are a lot of shapes on the market to choose from.
  • Each style of wine you drink will work best with a certain shape of wine glass.
  • Each design features its own form and function. 
  • Having the right wine glass for your wine will improve its taste and aromas.
  • Some wine glasses are better than others, so it’s important to shop around.
  • If you’re buying wine glasses for your home, knowing which one to get can be daunting.
  • Shopping for wine glasses can sometimes feel even more intimidating than choosing a wine. 

Thankfully, we’ve put together an easy guide so you can choose the best wine glasses for your home wine collection. By knowing what wine glasses do, which types are out there, and which wines work well with them, you’ll be able to make the perfect choice. 

What Wine Glasses are Important

When choosing the best wine glasses, it’s important to look for a glass that’s durable, beautiful, and works well with the style of wine you’re drinking. 

Each style of wine glass is made for a specific style of wine in mind. Some wines like tall and narrow glasses, while others benefit from deep glasses with wide bowls. 

Empty wine glass on a dark table.

Sometimes the perfect glass depends on your own preference. As long as your wine glass does its job, there’s really no limit to the amazing choices that are out there. 

In the end, look for wine glasses that:

  • Have a deep bowl so there’s plenty of space between your nose and your wine
  • Don’t have etching or colors so you can see your wine
  • Have a wider bowl that tapers inwards toward the rim
  • Are made from high-quality glass or crystal
  • Are within your budget

Types of Wine Glasses

Types of wine glasses with different types of wine.

There are dozens of shapes and styles of wine glasses to choose from. Factor in quality and subtle design changes and your choices go into the hundreds. 

For most of us, the simplest designs are all we need. Below are several styles and wines they work best with. 

Universal Shapes

There are some glass manufacturers who specialize in universal wine glasses. These glasses are marketed as having the perfect blend of features meant for any wine. 

Although these glasses are handy, they do generally come at a higher price tag. They are also not as good for specific wines that like having wider bowls or narrower bowls. 

Wine Glasses for White Wine

White wines are more complex and diverse than many people give them credit for. Some have tightly wound aromas that like to be concentrated, while others are more subtle and deserve to have space to move around.

Bold White Wines (Chardonnay, Viognier)

Bold white wines such as aged and oaked chardonnay, viognier, and blends like White Rioja, love to open up in a wider bowl. These glasses resemble burgundy glasses with their wider bowls and gently tapered yet wider rims. 

White wines with higher alcohol and complexity will breathe with this extra room, allowing their subtle and harder to detect aromas to come alive. With these glasses, look for ones that are made from good quality glass or crystal and have thinner rims.

Light Bodied White Wines (Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc)

White wines with lighter bodies prefer narrower glasses. These glasses concentrate their aromas near the rim of the glass. 

Wines such as sauvignon blanc, riesling, and unoaked chardonnay work well with these types of glasses. Their aromas, like tropical fruit, green vegetables, and citrus, will be able to harmonize beautifully together. 

Wine Glasses for Red Wine

Red wines contain an enormous variety of compounds that give them endless complexity and depth. Most red wines work best with glasses that have a larger bowl and wider opening to let their tannins and sometimes gripping alcohol loosen up.  

red wine poured in a glass

They also benefit from more space between the rim and bowl. This lets the wine’s higher concentrations of alcohol and tannins to release their vapors early, leaving delicate aromas and bouquets behind for you to savor. 

Burgundy and Pinot Noir Glasses (Pinot Noir and Delicate Reds)

Burgundy and other light-bodied but complex red wines work magically with a pinot noir or burgundy glass, also known as a bourgogne glass. These glasses have large bowls meant to collect the wine’s delicate aromas and let them intermingle.  

Medium to Full Bodied Reds (Merlot, Sangiovese, Malbec)

Glasses in this variety have a medium-sized bowl and a narrower rim. This lets the wine’s sometimes bracing tannins hit your tongue gradually, allowing the wine’s flavorful vapors to come in later and take over your senses. 

Full Bodied and Bold Reds (Bordeaux Blends, Barolo)

These glasses have a deep bowl that gives plenty of space between your nose and your wine. This lets the harsher aromas dissipate and gives the wine’s delicate bouquets and secondary aromas time to open up. 

You’ll usually see these glasses labeled as Bordeaux glasses. Wines that do well with these glasses are full-bodied reds such as cabernet sauvignon, bordeaux blends, tannat, barolo, and sangiovese. 

Wine Glasses for Sparkling Wine

Sparkling wine often deserves a narrower bowl to concentrate its bubbles. However, some people prefer more space to let sparkling wine’s aromas develop. Ultimately, many of these glasses depend on your preference and what type of sparkler you’re drinking. 

champagne tulips

Champagne Flutes

These classic glasses are some of the most iconic wine glasses on the market. Elegant, stylish, and practical, they are the most popular glass styles for sparkling wine

They work by concentrating the wine’s bubbles and circulating them throughout the bowl of the glass. Their narrow rims let you get the most concentrated burst of effervescence every time you take a sip.  

Coupes

Coupes have a wide rim and shallow bowl that lets the bubbles dance around your glass. They also help open up your wine, giving its complex aromas space to breathe. 

However, your wine may lose its bubbles quicker than with other glasses. In parties or events, coupes are great for stacking into champagne pyramids, making them party favorites. 

Teardrop Shaped Tulips

Tulips are the perfect blend of coupes and flutes. They have wider, tear-drop shaped bowls and wider rims that preserve your sparkling wine’s bubbles but also let their aromas open up. 

These are often the most popular glasses for wine fans and champagne-lovers. You can also expect to pay a higher price for these special glasses. 

Wine Glasses for Dessert Wines

Port, Sherry, Late Harvest Wines, and other dessert wines have highly concentrated aromas that might overpower a spacious Bourgogne or Bordeaux glass. These smaller glasses help prevent evaporation and keep the wine’s acidity, alcohol, and sometimes complex tannins concentrated in the glass. 

Parts of a Wine Glass

stem 1
stem 1

Even though they sometimes look different, wine glasses all share common traits. They are made to give your wine the room it needs to open up and taste amazing. Below are the different parts of your wine glass. 

Rim

The rim is where your lips and nose meet the glass. This is where you interact with the wine, making it a very important part of your wine glass. 

The highest quality wine glasses will have a thin rim, while thicker rims are generally used in everyday wine glasses for table wine. 

Bowl

The bowl is where your wine sits. All quality wine glasses have a deep bowl with enough room for air to sit between your nose and your wine. 

Any glass, aside from a champagne flute or coupe, that you can fill up to the rim with wine is not worth using for wine. 

Most bowls are also wide enough to let your wine get in contact with air. This allows it to open up and release its aromas into the glass. 

Some glasses are designed for maximum swirling. These glasses have an extra protrusion at the width, which creates a wider point for your wine to move and contact the air. 

Stem

Wine stems allow you to grip your glass without leaving smudges or fingerprints on the bowl. They also prevent body heat from your fingers from warming up your wine. 

wine glass stem

Although not all wine glasses have stems, most do, and many wine experts and sommeliers prefer glasses with them. They can be long or short depending on the glass. 

If your glass uses a stem, make sure it’s durable and made out of good quality glass or crystal. This will help prevent it from breaking. 

Foot or Base

The foot or base of your wine glass is important for letting your glass stand up. Some glasses have indentations in the bottom of the base, which lets you rest your fingers inside to generate maximum force when swirling your glass. 

Why Wine Glasses Work

Wine glasses work by taking wine’s vapors and moving them around so that we can pick them up by our sense of smell. Vapors transport your wine’s aromas into your nose and brain. 

Just like tastes in food, around 90% of what you ‘taste’ in wine is actually from smell. All the hundreds of compounds that wine contains will smell different and signify different flavors in your brain.  

empty wine glasses in a row

For example, the bell pepper aromas in wines like cabernet sauvignon or sauvignon blanc are actually from compounds called pyrazines. There are compounds that mimic all sorts of unique things, like garden hose and leather hats to cherry pie and cola. 

Each shape and style of wine glass affects your wine’s compound-carrying vapors differently. Some condense them, allowing you to concentrate on only a few while other glass shapes let the vapors open up and dance in the glass. 

Depending on the wine, each shape works to let the wine express itself the best it can. Even though you can enjoy wine out of anything, having the right glass for your wine will take an average wine tasting and elevate it to the next level. 

Find the Perfect Wine Glass for You and Your Wine

Not all wine glasses are built the same. Some are better than others with certain styles of wine. 

However, no matter which one you buy, having a wine glass that you enjoy using is the most important part. 

wine glass near. anapkin and tablecloth

When choosing a wine glass, always look for something that’s within your budget and will serve the wine you’re drinking well. Look for shapes that have a deep and spacious bowl to let your wine’s aromas fill up the air in the glass. 

Also, always choose a wine glass that’s made from crystal or glass. Crystal is perfect for people who want an elegant glass that’s light and beautiful. Glass is better for the rest of us who want practicality and durability. 

No matter which one you choose, have fun picking the perfect glass for you and your wine. When you have the right glass, it takes wine tasting to a whole other level.