Champagne and wine are an important part of gatherings both big and small. Since there's a glass for just about every occasion and wine variety out there, picking the right wine glass can be as tricky as selecting the right wine. We're here to help! In this guide, we break down the essential things to know about wine glasses, including types, materials, and features.
Types of Wine Glasses
Whether you like to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or entertain guests regularly, there are three types of wine glasses you should have in your cabinet—red, white, and Champagne. Here are the main differences between the types and why having all three are so important:
White Wine Glasses
White wine glasses (above left) are shorter with a narrower bowl than red wine glasses. They also feature more of a U shape, which allows the aromas to be released while keeping the wine cool (most white wines are served chilled). There are also different types of white wine glasses depending on the variety.
Considered the standard white wine glass, chardonnay glasses have the widest bowl, which is designed to direct the wine to the tip and sides of the tongue to maximize the taste of the sweetness. They usually have long stems designed to keep the wine as cool as possible.
Other white wine glasses—meant for bolder white wines, such as riesling and sauvignon blanc—feature narrower bowls to direct wine to the back of the mouth to maximize the wine's bold flavors and acidity.
Montrachet or white Burgundy glasses look similar to wide red wine glasses but are shorter.
Champagne glasses (above middle) feature a taller, narrower bowl (called a flute) designed to highlight the richness and complexity of the sparkling wine. The smaller opening retains the carbonation longer and directs the wine to the tip of the tongue to maximize its flavor. The most common type of Champagne glasses feature the flute shape pictured above, however the flute can also be more V-shaped or have a very short, wide bowl, called a coupe. Types of wine that can be served in Champagne glasses include sparkling wine, cava, prosecco, and asti.
Red Wine Glasses
Red wine glasses (above right) are taller and have a wider bowl than white wine glasses. In general, red wines are bolder, so they need bigger glasses to allow all of the flavors and aromas to emerge from the wine. There are different types of red wine glasses, as well.
Considered the standard red wine glass, Bordeaux glasses are designed for heavy, full-bodied wines (like cabernet, Bordeaux, and merlot). They are taller and have smaller bowls than Burgundy red wine glasses. The height of the glass directs the wine to the back of the mouth to maximize the flavor.
Meant for light, full-bodied wines (like pinot noir and Burgundy), Burgundy glasses are shorter but have a much wider bowl than other red wine glasses. The wider, almost balloon-shaped bowl directs the wine to the tip of the tongue, where it is more sensitive, to taste the delicate flavors of lighter wines.
Shiraz glasses are the tallest of the red wine glasses and feature a distinct taper inward toward the lip of the glass.
Dessert and After-Dinner Wine Glasses
Sweet dessert wines and after-dinner wines, including port, sherry, and ice wine, should be served in a short, narrow glass, which directs the wine to the back of the mouth so the sweetness doesn't overwhelm the palate. See all dessert wine glasses.
If you only wish to purchase three types of wine glasses, pick up a set of Bordeaux, chardonnay, and Champagne glasses. These standard glasses will serve you well for years to come.
Wine Glass Materials
To determine what material is right for you and your entertaining needs, read below.
Glass is a cost-effective and durable option for everyday wine drinkware. This material is meant for indoor entertaining only. Glass can be put in the dishwasher, so it is relatively low maintenance. If you are mostly serving meals on casual dinnerware, glass is the best option for you.
Crystal is beautiful, elegant, and provides the purest wine drinking experience. However, crystal glasses are very expensive, break easily, and must be handwashed, so they are not for everyday use. If you often serve meals using fine china, opt for crystal glasses to complete the refined look.
Lead crystal features small, non-visible bumps on the inside of the glass to help aid in the aeration of the wine as it is swirled in the glass. Crystal is expensive, breaks easily, and must be hand-washed, so it is not for everyday use. If you often host fancy dinner parties and serve meals on fine china, use crystal glasses.
Plastic or acrylic can be used outside and are the most inexpensive everyday options. They are the most low-maintenance wine drinkware and can be put in the dishwasher. However, the rim is thicker than glass or crystal, which affects the drinking experience.
Wine Glass Features
Stemless glasses have become very popular recently. Easier to handle and less prone to breakage than stemmed glasses, stemless glasses are often used outdoors. They can also hold other beverages, including cocktails and water. However, they do not keep white wine as cool as stemless glasses because the heat from your hands will transfer to the wine.
Etched glass can add a decorative element to your table. Glass can be etched to form a pattern (stripes, polka dots, plaid), monogram, phrase, or motif (starfish, hearts, palm tree).
Banded wine glasses have a more traditional appearance. The band is often gold, silver, or platinum. Crystal and glass are the most common materials to feature banding.
Colored glass can also add a decorative element to your table. The entire glass, from the foot to the lip, can be colored, or just the stem. However, you cannot see the wine as well in a colored glass.
Make sure you have enough of each type of wine glass for your entire dinnerware service. A set of 12 should be good for most gatherings. If your gathering is large, mix and match wine glasses from different sets to serve everyone.
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