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The Right Glass


The right wine glass has a great deal of influence on your overall experience when enjoying a glass of vino. And a recent newsletter, below, from WineTime expands on this thought.

I cannot overstate the importance of good stemware to the overall enjoyment of wine. When we drink wine we engage our sense of sight, smell and taste. Wine is beautiful in the glass, it can have a wonderful aroma and, of course, we enjoy how it tastes. A wine glass should enhance all of these sensations.


Wine has great visual appeal. A good wine glass should be absolutely clear. Etched and colored wine glasses may be beautiful in themselves, but they hinder your visual enjoyment of the wine.



A large percentage of what we perceive as taste is actually our sense of smell. Therefore it is very important that we be able to smell wine as we drink it. A red or white wine glass should be tulip shaped, that is larger at the base of the bowl and narrowing toward the mouth. This shape will concentrate the wine’s aroma and enhance the taste.


  • The way a glass contributes to how a wine tastes is a bit less obvious and more controversial than its contribution to sight and smell. The shape of the glass dictates how we hold our head when drinking. For example, a glass with a wide mouth requires us to lower the head to sip the wine, while a narrow glass wants us to tilt the head back. This positioning of the head delivers the wine in different amounts and to different parts of the mouth. A properly designed glass directs the volume and flow of wine in a way that accentuates not only the taste but also how the wine feels in your mouth.
  • Red wine glasses should be generously sized to allow a large wine surface area for the maximum release of aromatics and exposure to air. The large size and tulip shape concentrates these aromas and places our nose practically in the glass when we drink. White wine glasses are smaller than red wine glasses for practical reasons. White wine should be served well chilled and a glass with a large surface area would cause the wine to warm too quickly. In addition, white wine releases fewer aromatics than red, so a large glass would contribute less to that component of taste.
  • How many kinds of wine glasses do you need? You can buy glasses made specifically for Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and almost every other popular wine variety. Or you can save your money to buy wine. For most of us three types of general purpose wine glasses should meet our needs; a red wine glass, a white wine glass and a champagne glass. I suggest a 20 or so ounce tulip glass for red wine (often referred to as a Bordeaux or Cabernet glass) and 15 or so ounce tulip glass for white. For sparkling wines a tall, very narrow tulip glass (called a flute) is needed. This shape prolongs the bubbles and preserves the chill of sparkling wines.
  • You can pay just about any amount of money you want for a wine glass, but you can get perfectly acceptable everyday stemware for between $5 and $10 a stem. For example, Bed Bath & Beyond has a good selection of wine stems for under $10.00. While thicker glass stems are less expensive and resist breakage, thin glass stems will provide a better drinking experience. So purchase as thin a glass as you feel comfortable with from both a price and durability point of view.
  • In my opinion it’s OK, actually preferable, to put your everyday stemware in the dishwasher. I have broken far more wine glasses hand drying them than I ever have in the dishwasher. I can’t begin to count the number of times I have been drying the inside of the bowl and had a section of it break away in my hand. Just be sure the dishwasher accommodates the stemware with no stress on the bowl or stem and protects it from other items in the dishwasher. Sometimes this requires washing the stemware alone, but many dishwashers have a crystal cycle or at short wash cycle that doesn’t use much water.