Holding Wine Glasses: Answers To the Questions You’re Too Embarrassed To Ask

Holding Wine Glasses: Answers To the Questions You’re Too Embarrassed To Ask

McKenzie Hagan |

Holding wine glasses may seem simple enough, but if you’re worried about holding it wrong and outing yourself as a false wine aficionado, there are a few things to note. After all, these delicate vessels have a habit of breaking if held too firmly, or grasped in the wrong spot.

So, how do you make sure you’re not risking a spill, or worse yet, a smash? 

In this article we’ll answer all the questions you’re too embarrassed to ask your wino friends. We’ll go into detail on different holds for various wine glasses, the most secure grip to avoid spills, and why this seemingly insignificant aspect of wine culture even matters. Keep reading to discover our hints so you can look totally cool and casual at your next cocktail hour.

Why Holding Wine Glasses Properly Matters

To most reasonable people, how you hold your wine glass is totally up to you. Most people at your Bachelor watch party are too busy thinking about themselves (or watching the rose ceremony) to even notice what you’re up to, especially if there’s good rosé to be had. However, there are a few social faux pas to avoid.

Holding wine glasses properly also matters because wine glasses, especially those on the more expensive side, can be extremely delicate. Grasping the bowl of the glass tightly in your hand could lead to accidents (and worse yet, wasted wine!).

Wine glasses are specially designed to protect your wine from the heat of your hand. See, if your host has served you a glass of wine at the correct temperature, heat from your hand could warm your wine when you hold it wrong, thus ruining the drinking experience.

How To Hold a Standard Wine Glass

holding wine glass: rose, strawberry and wine glass on the table

So, how do you avoid warming your beverage or risking breakage? Let’s start with a standard wine glass.

A standard glass is what most people are familiar with — it’s what you’ll see at restaurants, bars, events, and your friend’s cabinet. The standard wine glass is much smaller than some of the grander options, such as a Bordeaux glass or a Burgundy glass, and not as tall or thin as a Champagne flute.

To hold a standard wine glass, you must avoid holding the bowl of the glass and stick to holding the stem. While some clutch the stem in their palm, making a tight fist, we think this can look a bit clumsy.

Instead, wrap your pointer finger around the stem of the glass and let your other fingers loosely wrap around too, but avoid letting them touch the glass. Then, use your thumb to hold in place. Trust us, you’ll look like that effortlessly classy party guest we all aspire to be.

Depending on how long the stem is, you can hold the glass from high up near the bowl, or low down near the base, it doesn’t really matter.

Some people choose to grasp the base of the glass to get a better grip. While your hand won’t be in danger of heating your wine, you do put yourself at risk of spilling your wine, as this method makes it top heavy and hard to balance.

How To Hold a Champagne Flute

holding wine glass: Usual Wines bottles on a table

Champagne flutes are long, thin glasses, specifically designed for drinking sparkling wines. While the sleek design helps to keep your wine bubbly for longer (which comes in handy when you’re sitting through that 10-minute toast from the best man at a wedding), this does make the glasses even more delicate than a standard wine glass. 

Be sure to keep your hands away from the long bowl to protect the thin glass. Gently pinch the stem between index and thumb, using your other fingers to help with balance. If you’re really feeling the Champagne vibe you could even raise your pinky finger for extra flair (when else do you get to do that?).

Because Champagne flutes have extra long stems, they can be easier to hold if you’re particularly clumsy. If you’re really worried about dropping your glass, you could wrap your whole palm around the stem. However, this does look a little odd, and puts you at risk of over-squeezing the glass and breaking it, so try to relax as much as possible and hold the glass in a relaxed fist. That toast should be over soon.

How To Hold a Stemless Wine Glass

Stemless wine glasses are a godsend for any clumsy wine lovers. Because the glasses are shaped more like everyday cups, there’s only one way to hold them. Grip them the same way you would hold a water glass or a tumbler — with your entire hand.

While this type of glassware is getting very popular, stemless glasses are at risk of warming your wine as you hold them. They can also be a nightmare to keep clean, as your fingers around the glass can cause smudges.

To avoid changing the temperature of your wine when using a stemless wine glass, don’t fill it to the top. Instead, leave a generous gap between the wine and the brim of the glass, so you can hold the glass between your thumb and index finger. This will keep your hand away from your vino and keep fingerprints to a minimum.

It might be even wiser to just take a quick sip, then keep it on the table rather than keeping it in your hand.

Avoid These Wine Glass Mistakes

Two Usual Wines bottles on a table

Whether you’re at a wedding, a winery, or a wine tasting party, avoid these wine glass no-nos:

  • Don’t fill your glass all the way to the rim. We get it, we love wine too, but this not only puts you on track for spills, but also makes you look a bit greedy.
  • Try not to grip the wine stem too firmly. Accidents do happen, and this could easily end up breaking your glass.
  • Don’t mix your glasses up. It doesn’t always matter, but there are some beverages that require a specific glass. While most red wines can be served in a standard glass, deeply aromatic wines like Bordeaux and Burgundy need a glass with a wide bowl, so the wine drinker can appreciate the aroma.
  • Don’t let your glasses get dirty. If you’re hosting, remember to keep your glasses sparkling clean. There’s nothing worse than finding someone else's fingerprints or lipstick stains right before you take a sip.

A Glass Act

Take a deep breath, you’ve just learned all you need to know about holding a glass of wine properly. Whether you’re nervous for a fancy event or just got into wine and are about to embark on your first tasting, try not to worry too much. Wine is all about enjoyment. While these tips will help you understand the proper etiquette, we hope you can have fun above all else as you sip that Chablis or Cabernet. 

Is this all too stuffy for you? Forego the glass altogether and sip right from the bottle! At Usual Wines our bottles are one standard glass of wine (plus a little extra), and they’re foolproof to hold. Bring a few bottles of our fresh, small-batch wine to your friend’s dinner party so you don’t have to worry about stems, bowls, or fingerprints at all.

Now go enjoy that wine!

Share