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Everything About Wine Glassware, Explained

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November 21, 2019

The holiday season has arrived! And while this time of year is exciting for many of us, it’s also when those host duties start to pile up. It can be stressful managing the pressures of throwing the perfect holiday soirée. But don’t let the stress talk you out of being crowned this season’s hostess with the mostess! We’ll let you in on a little secret that may prove helpful: One surefire way to throw a successful and impressive party? It’s all in the glassware. 



Think about it: When the host brings out the wine glass that’s intended for that specific type of wine, you can’t help but feel extra elevated and classy. But with the variety of wine glassware out in the world, where do you even begin? We understand the amount of work that goes into making a good party happen, so we collected all the necessary info on wine glassware for you.

Why Shape Matters

Wine glasses are shaped differently to showcase the aroma and — since our taste and smell receptors are so closely connected — the flavors. Why the shape, though? The shape controls the way we experience the wine. A wine glass with a taller bowl and/or a flared lip will push the beverage to a different part of your mouth. This affects which parts of our palette experience the wine over others. 

The entire architecture of the glass influences how we absorb the wine. For instance, the size of the bowl will change how much the wine can breathe. The rim determines how the aroma reaches your nose. Stems act as temperature control for the glass by keeping your hands from warming the bowl. Sharing these insights with guests will instantly heighten the feel of your holiday gathering — it all starts with using the right glass.

Some Basic Rules

Before we get to the most popular wine glasses, consider these basic rules when thinking about the glassware you’ll use at your next party.

  • Red wines get glasses with wide, tall bowls and narrow rims.
  • White wine bowls are more U-shaped and narrow, and need to have a stem.
  • Rosé wines get a glass with a turned out/tapered/flared rim.
  • Sparkling wines can go in a white wine glass if you’re in a pinch, but are better suited in a tall, thin flute.

The Perfect Glass

Cabernet Sauvignon: This glass is tall and all about fragrance. The bowl is wide, but resist the urge to pour a huge glass. A smaller glass gives the aroma as much room as possible to escape the wine, which is pushed out by the narrow mouth.

Burgundy: This wine is most known for its terroir, and the wideness of the bowl helps capture it. The lip at the mouth of the glass is quite thin. The wine has no trouble getting to the tip of the tongue, where Burgundy wines along with other kinds of wines like Barbaresco, Barolo, and Barbera are best enjoyed.

Pinot Noir: Yes, technically red Burgundies are Pinot Noir, so you could sip a Pinot Noir out of a Burgundy-specific glass and still be doing it “properly.” However, there’s a Pinot Noir-specific glass as well, which also features a tapered lip and wide bowl. Its key differentiator? A stem that’s a bit shorter compared to other red wine glasses.

Bordeaux: This glass is the tallest to aid in pushing the wine to the back of the mouth. The bowl is smaller than most red wine glasses, with a mouth that’s just a little bit smaller. Cabernets and Merlots can also be enjoyed in this glass! 

Rosé: The long stem helps this wine stay cool. There are two different types of bowls for Rosé glasses. One has a lip that’s flared for younger Rosés, and one has a less tapered lip for more mature Rosés. 

Champagne/Sparkling Wine: This glass is tall and narrow to accommodate the carbonation. The flavors travel directly to the front of your mouth, and aromas go straight to the nose.

Chardonnay: This glass is similar to a Pinot Noir glass, but it’s smaller and more U-shaped. That shape ensures the wine is tasted on the sides and front of the mouth.

Vintage: These glasses were designed purely for aesthetic purposes. The glass shape is bulbous and allows the wine to receive tons of oxygen.

Mekita Rivas
Mekita Rivas is a freelance journalist and creative consultant based in Washington, D.C. She's currently a fashion news writer for Teen Vogue. Her writing has also been published in The Washington Post, New York MagazineWine EnthusiastGlamourBrides, and others. She's never met a Malbec she didn't love.
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