Wine Glassware & Stemware 101
There’s a wide variety of wine glass types to suit most wine styles, as well as the most picky palates.
Generally speaking, different shapes and sizes allow to reveal each wine different according to its characteristics: aromatic intensity, alcohol level, sparkling or still, etc.
The infographic above and the information below covers all the most common wine glass types and why they are more suited to their dedicated style of wine.
A Chardonnay glass has a wide bowl and softly tapered top. When filled, it leaves plenty of room for swirling the wine, get the air into it, and develop the aromas. It has an elegant long stem for keeping it cool and away from the hand.
The simple Standard White wine glass is a modest thing, smaller than a small red wine glass, but with a wider bowl to enhance the aromatics. The white wine glasses that have a wider mouth help to promote contact with oxygen and enhance the flavour. For wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris/Grigio, Riesling, etc.
The Pinot Noir glass has a sizable bowl with a wider mouth, typically allowing more exposure to air which accelerates the development of flavours and the aeration process. Allowing the wine to breathe is important for the flavours in a Pinot Noir, or you could be massively missing out on a wonderfully developed beverage.
The Bordeaux glass is tall and grand, with a broad bowl; its design matches the full-bodied red wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It is made to hold, directing the wine to the bitter tastes at the back of the mouth. Like most glasses specially designed for red wine, it has a larger opening to allow the nose room to go inside the glass and catch the scent.
The Standard Red wine glass is typically larger than the largest white wine glass, but its body is narrower in order to help direct the bouquet and aromas up the glass and towards the nose. Once more, the larger bowl allows the red wine to become more exposed to the air, allowing the wine to aerate after being served.
The Burgundy Glass is broader than the Bordeaux glass but not as tall, with a bigger bowl to sit in the palm of the hand to allow the greater accumulation of more sensitive aromas. To favour the dainty taste, the shape of the glass directs wine to the sweeter tip of the tongue. This type works for French Burgundy wines (Bourgogne) but also all Pinot Noir wines.
The Tulip is a popular design choice for sparkling wine as it is tall and slender with a greater bowl space, opening out from its slender base into a blossom. This shape also maintains and promotes bubbles, ensuring they hit the correct areas of your tongue. The wide bowl allows for a generous swirl to help oxidisation, which develops its flavour, balancing the acidity and sweetness.
Vintage (also known as Coupe)
The Coupe is the glass we think of when we image class and style from a bygone era, at the time of its popularity in the 20th Century, it was used to accentuate a popular champagne desert at the time which was made sweet with extra syrup. Of course now it is unpopular due to its wide surface area and shallow space not giving enough room for the bubbles to develop.
The Flute is a well-known traditional glass with a slender bowl to concentrate the bubbles to the tip of the tongue, guiding them up through the glass. The close shape allows the rich scents of your sparkling wine to be identified immediately. These glasses can often be very tall, sometimes unconventionally tall for fashion purposes rather than ease of drinking. But nonetheless the slender build provides a nurturing environment to maintain the carbonation in sparkling wines.
The Standard Sweet wine glass is the glass to reach for when all else fails or you are unprepared for the unpredictably sweet and intense flavours of dessert wines. The standard size of this glass is 120ml, similar to a small wine glass; this is to prevent overwhelming the senses with the intense sweetness. As a rule, it would seem that all dessert wine glasses are created in small measures, to make sure we do not have too much of a sweet thing in one sitting. The smaller crystal also directs the wine directly to the back of the mouth, thus avoiding the sweet tip and focusing on the bitterness of the back.
The Port glass is finely tuned to facilitate its high alcohol content and sugar levels. With a small and slender shape, it limits the alcohol capacity to a more desirable amount, perfect for a tasting or civilised drinking. The smaller build of the glass and tall, narrow bowl helps to mask the overwhelming alcoholic odours, which allows the delicate flavours of fruit, wood and seasoning to become noticed.
The Sauternes has been proven to be the ideal glass for sweet wines. Its unusual curves allow aromas to reach the nose. It is designed to put emphasis on the liquid’s acidity, which balances out the marked sweetness of the wine.
A Sherry glass is used for serving aromatic beverages such as sherry, port, aperitifs and liqueurs. Its V-shape design is based around the desire to enhance aromas. It is a very small glass, smaller than a port glass. Typically it holds such a small amount of drink due to the higher alcohol content found in such beverages.