When it comes to wine glasses there are so many options. Glasses come in a number of shapes, but there are also stemless options and some with designs or even color. Is there a best wine glass? Probably not. For the casual wine drinker, glassware and stemware come down to a few important things. For the more serious wine fan, the considerations are different. In this guide we’ll break down the types of glasses and when to use them. Plus we’ve included how to shop for them!
Types of Wine Glasses
Wine glasses are broken into several unofficial categories. To start, there are glasses that align with wine styles. These are white and red wine glasses, sparkling glasses, regional and varietal glasses. These glasses are designed to highlight styles when tasting. There are also stemless glasses to consider.
White and Red Wine Glasses
First things first: there is a difference between white and red wine glasses, and the differences do matter.
White wine glasses generally have a smaller bowl (the part that holds the wine). Red wine glasses, on the other hand, have a larger bowl. Why does bowl size matter? It’s all about surface area!
A small bowl means the wine has less surface area exposed to air. White wines are often more delicate and have floral notes that will get lost if too much air hits the wine. They are better at cooler temps so keeping the wine’s surface area also low helps them maintain a cooler temperature for longer.
Finally, there is a smaller distance between the wine and the nose, concentrating the aromas.
Red wine glasses, on the other hand, have a larger bowl. This allows ethanol to evaporate, allowing the aromas to open and not just have the wine smell like ethanol. Finally, larger surface area smooths out the wine and allows it to oxygenate as you drink, warming a little faster to truly taste the way it should.
Sparkling Wine Glasses
We love the look of champagne flutes. The way they keep the bubbles together makes for the perfect picture, and no party is complete without them. For entertaining, and simple sparkling wines, they’re the obvious choice. But what about better sparkling wines? Is there another glass?
If you are tasting a quality sparkling wine it’s time to rethink your glass. The flute, while aesthetically pleasing, mutes the wine because it doesn’t have any room to move. Quality sparkling wines have flavors from what’s called “autolysis,” a phase of the winemaking process where yeast cells break down imparting a bready, toast or brioche note to the wine. To truly enjoy the complexity you need a bigger glass. So, what’s the best glass for sparkling wine?
If the wine is completely dry, you can hang onto your flute. But if it has some residual sugar, we recommend choosing a tulip or white wine glass. The key is to make sure the bowl comes to a point. The point ensures that stream of bubbles we all find mesmerizing.
For vintage or aged sparkling wine, or anything with residual sugar, swap your flute for a tulip or wide tulip glass. These will allow the wine to open while also keeping the army of aromas concentrated for full enjoyment.
Regional and Varietal Glasses
If you’ve ever shopped for stemware you’ve noticed there are many, many kinds of glasses. You can buy regional glasses. There are Burgundy glasses! Bordeaux glasses! Beaujolais glasses! And that’s only three regions in France. Then there are varietal glasses for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and all the many other grapes.
Do you need all of these glasses? No. Do they make a difference? Yes.
If you collect or drink a lot of a particular region or varietal, it’s absolutely worth investing in a few glasses.
Stemmed vs. Stemless Wine Glasses
It’s called stemware for a reason: wine glasses are known for their stems which keep the bowl clean and stop wine from warming too quickly. That said, stemless wine glasses are great! They are easier to clean and polish–sometimes even dishwasher safe–harder to knock over, less likely to break… we could extoll the value of stemless all day.
If stemless is more your speed, we recommend looking for double-walled glasses. These glasses have a thicker outside glass that regulates the temperature of your wine, allowing it to stay closer to serving temperature for longer. The double wall also makes for a sturdier glass that is less likely to break.
Interesting Wine Glasses
If you like glassware with personality there are several options out there that will add a little oomph to your wine glass game.
You simply cannot go wrong with Estelle Colored Glasses. This luxury brand makes cake stands and glassware, including colorful coupes, stemmed and stemless wine glasses. The pastel glasses are beautiful accents to a neutral table setting but they also have bold options like cobalt and fuschia. Kate Spade offers glasses with a cobalt spiral and Mikasa has festive but restrained goblets. While these are more expensive, if you want a truly beautiful glass in your collection you can’t beat these.
Building a Collection
Glassware is gorgeous, but if you’re not a wine professional, you probably don’t need a complete collection of glasses. Instead, here are some tips for building a great stemware collection without breaking the bank or buying glasses you’ll never use.
- Do not fear the universal glass. The universal glass is the best thing to happen to wine drinkers with limited space or patience. These come in many styles, include modern, flat-bottom versions that are not only perfect for every wine but look great when entertaining and in pictures.
- Start simple. Find a set of white and red wine glasses that you love and buy a set of each. Six or twelve of each is perfect. Some now even come in smaller sets of three or four!
- Get sparkling wine glasses. If you drink sparkling wine, be sure to have a few tulip glasses, these are incredibly versatile and the best option. If you only drink bone-dry sparkling, go ahead and get those flutes!
We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite tips for buying wine glasses.
- Think about what you drink. If you bring home big bold reds and never reach for whites, it’s worth starting with a set of red wine glasses or having two sets of red wine glasses and one of white.
- Consider your lifestyle. Kids? Pets? Roommates? Consider stemless, double-walled glasses for everyday drinking and shop with coupons or for less expensive glasses if you’re going to have to replace glasses.
- Remember that wine glasses are a pain in the neck. They really are! Some glasses have to be hand-washed and polished and you’d be amazed how many you’ll break if you’re not used to doing this. Seek out dishwasher-friendly wine glasses and skip the detergent–just use a hot wash, sanitizer setting and steam cycle. You may even be able to skip the polishing.
- Check the rim. Some glasses have a rolled rim and some are not rolled. Rolled rims are a bit sturdier and less-likely to break from normal use. The ones that are not rolled break easily.
- Store standing up. Always stand your glasses on their base to store. Wine glasses, especially good ones, can “pop” if stored on the bowl.
Go Shop for Wine Glasses!
It’s no secret we love to save on alcohol and what better way to do that then shopping online with codes and coupons?
One option for online shopping is JoyJolt, a New York-based glassware company with a contemporary, fun vibe. We especially like their double-walled and modern wine glasses. Their glasses are high quality and absolutely the place to look for double-walled and modern wine glasses.