How to choose the right wine glass in four steps

Are you selecting the right wine glasses when sipping at home? Here we look at why it matters and how to choose the ultimate vessel for each style of vino

Words by Club Oenologique Editors

three all rounder wine glasses for red, white and rosé

Choosing the right wine glass can be a matter of personal preference. But those in the winemaking industry will tell you one of two things: either one glass fits all, or you must have a separate wine glass for each blend and grape variety.

Over the past ten years, we have seen an expansion in wine glass shapes, varying from the basic and inexpensive to indulgent and extravagant styles, which can make the choice overwhelming. 

In this guide, we help you navigate the key decisions you’ll need to make when searching for the right wine glass for you.

Why does choosing the right wine glass matter?

The style, shape and thickness of a wine glass can play a crucial part in how the wine is presented and how it tastes. While many winemakers would argue that the wine itself is the most important aspect and that no glassware will enhance a poorly made blend, getting the right glass can make a difference to your appreciation and enjoyment of any wine.

All wines, regardless of type (red, white, rosé, sparkling and fortified) contain important aromas that have a vital function in the wines overall character.

Exploring the aromas of your wine is enhanced through choosing the right wine glass.

Three things to consider when choosing the right wine glass

A collection of wine glasses holding red, white and rosé

The bowl shape

The bowl shape impacts how much air gets to the wine which influences the aroma and taste.

Smaller bowls make it harder for the aroma to escape, ensuring the delicate flavours of white wine are contained within the glass. When tasting from a smaller bowl glass, you will notice more aromas travelling towards your nose which may be lost with a wider bowl.

Red wines typically contain bolder aromas which need more aeration to release the flavours.  A wider bowl allows more oxygen to reach the wine for that very purpose. Wider bowl shapes are traditionally used for fuller-bodied wines, such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends.

Champagne and sparkling wines are best showcased with a narrow flute to preserve the bubbles that may be lost in a wider Champagne coupe. However, there are some arguments to suggest that without the air space at the top of the glass, a flute will not help in aiding the development of more complex aromas from an older Champagne. For many, selecting a flute, coupe of otherwise is still a matter of personal taste.

Rim thickness

The glass thickness at the rim can impede the smooth flow of wine from glass to mouth. A thin-cut rim with no lip will allow the wine to reach your taste buds more smoothly than if you were drinking from a thicker glass with a rolled lip.

Thinner glasses may be more fragile, which may be a consideration for storage and durability.

Stems vs stemless

Stemmed glassware is the traditional choice for a wine glass. But it’s not all for the sake of appearance. The temperature of a wine can impact the perception of its aromas and acidity. Carrying the glass by its stem can stop the wine’s temperature from rising. This is important for those who like white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, which are best enjoyed when chilled or lightly chilled. Holding the bowl of the glass can cause the temperature to rise from the heat of your hands, which is less of an issue with red than white wine. Red wines are best enjoyed closer to room temperature at around 13-18 degrees. 

The tumbler style can add more stability than a stemmed wine glass, which may offer a more practical solution for presentation and storage.

Holding up wine glass with stem in the vineyard

One glass for each grape, or one glass for all?

Not everyone can store different glasses for  Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir but they may be able to store a red and a white wine glass.

Alternatively, opting for an all-round wine glass – one glass whose shape suits several styles of wine – could be more beneficial. We conducted our own trial to examine a range made by popular glass makers in order to find an all-round wine glass that is suitable for everyone. In this article we rated a selection of wine glasses against three criterias: practicality, appearance, and the ability to show the wine’s aroma and palate.

About Club Oenologique

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