Does It Really Matter What Types of Wine Glasses You Have?
While many wine lovers recognize the difference between white wine glasses and red wine glasses, most people don’t realize the enormous variety of glassware that exists.
As it turns out, different types of wine have specific types of wine glasses designed to let the drinker appreciate the full breadth of flavors and aromas.
While you can drink wine out of anything, to fully experience and taste your wine, you may want to invest in a range of wine glasses. (Although there’s something to be said about drinking it straight from the bottle — as long as it’s the right bottle. More on that later.)
In this article, we’ll guide you through why glassware matters and the different types of wine glasses you may want to use for your next sip.
Why Glassware Matters
Selecting the right type of wine glass all comes down to vapor. Studies show that the shape of a wine glass can have a noticeable effect on the nose and finish of the wine because of how the glass lets off ethanol.
While a classic wine glass will have a lower alcohol concentration in the center of the glass than around the ring, a martini glass or a straight glass will not. Scientist Kohji Mitsubayashi refers to this as a ring-shaped vapor pattern:
“This ring phenomenon allows us to enjoy the wine aroma without interference of gaseous ethanol. Accordingly, wine glass shape has a very sophisticated functional design for tasting and enjoying wine.”
The aroma of wine is significant in wine tasting. These aromatic vapors give you a clue as to what the flavor compounds are in your chosen glass, even before you taste it. They ready your brain for the taste and add to the wine tasting experience.
If you don’t believe it, try it. Take your favorite wine and serve it a few different glasses, varying the width of the bowl and the opening of the glass. Can you taste or smell a difference? We bet you can.
Best Types of Wine Glasses for Red Wine
When it comes to picking the best glass for red wine, think oxygen. When wine is subjected to oxygen, or allowed to “breathe,” the subtle flavors reveal themselves. New delicate flavors and aromas develop (and remember how vital smell is).
Because red wines have a fuller body and more intense flavors than their white counterparts, it's crucial to pick a glass in which your red wine can breathe. Wine glasses with a broader bowl and wider opening allow red wine to oxidize and develop as you drink.
And since there are so many varieties of red wine, there are specific red wine glasses to suit a range of varietals. Here are a few.
A tall glass with a wide bowl, the Bordeaux glass is best suited for full-bodied red wines. Choose this glass when you’re drinking Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon.
Similar to the Bordeaux glass, but with a wider brim, the Burgundy glass is perfect for lighter-bodied reds with more delicate flavors. Pick this glass when you want to sip Pinot Noir.
Standard Wine Glass
The standard wine glass is the one that’s familiar to most people. This glass has a narrower mouth than the previous examples and is perfect for medium- to full-bodied red wines like Malbec.
Best Rosé and White Wine Glasses
If you’re more of a white wine lover, don’t just pour your Riesling in anything and hope for the best. While white wines have less body and fewer intense flavors than reds, it still matters what glass you serve them in.
In contrast to red wines, light-bodied wines go best in narrow-bowled glasses. This is because the smaller glasses can preserve the fruity flavors by maintaining a cooler temperature.
Also, because white wine glasses are shorter, the space between the drinker’s nose and the wine is reduced, meaning you can truly experience the aroma of the wine.
However, because white wines are so diverse, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, fuller-bodied white wines or oaked white wines, such as Chardonnay, suit a glass with a wider bowl. This is because the glass directs the wine to the back of the tongue, allowing you to taste the bolder flavors more intensely.
Best Types of Wine Glasses for Sparkling Wine
When it comes to serving sparkling wines such as Brut, a Champagne flute is ideal.
Because sparkling wines such as Brut are best served cool, the long stems of a Champagne flute are perfect — drinkers can hold their glass without transferring the heat from their hand to the wine.
Avoid stemless glasses when it comes to white wine or sparkling wine. Since stemless wine glasses force you to hold the bowl, they cause the wine to warm far past their optimum temperature. However, this matters a lot less with red wine since it’s served slightly warmer.
Sparkling wine glasses are also specially designed to maintain the wine’s iconic bubbles. Because flutes are long and slim, they have a small surface area, which means the bubbles have less time to oxidize.
However, for some aged Champagnes and Cavas, you might want to serve them in a tulip-shaped glass — the slightly wider bowl collects more of the aged brioche-like flavors.
What About Wine in Bottles?
Ah, glad you asked. As you may have noticed, Usual Wines come in single-serving glass bottles, which have been specially designed so you can enjoy your wine whenever and wherever — without ever needing to break out a wine glass.
However, if you're feeling fancy or want to follow a more traditional way of drinking wine (and don’t mind washing the dishes), we won’t judge. In fact, we have a few suggestions.
Because our red wine is a Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon blend, it’s considered a full-bodied wine. While you can sip it straight from the bottle without missing a note of the bing cherries, dark chocolate, and fresh violets, you can also appreciate its full depth of flavor in a wide-bowled glass.
Our Brut is a dry sparkling wine, so it doesn’t need to be decanted into a glass. Thanks to the narrow brim of the Usual Wines bottle, you simply pop the cap and drink — no glass required. Just remember this light and refreshing sparkling wine has quite the bubbly personality, so be careful it doesn’t fizz up when you swig.
Our crisp, dry rosé is a full-bodied blend of Syrah, Malbec, and Sangiovese that’s perfectly poised for drinking straight from the bottle. You could also enjoy it poured into a small glass with a wide bowl — a standard wine glass would be just fine.
It’s Time to Raise a Glass
Like pairing food with wine, choosing the right types of wine glasses can help bring out the notes, flavors, and textures of wine.
When selecting wine glasses, first pay attention to the body of the wine you’re serving. If it's a full-bodied red, choose a Bordeaux glass. If it’s a light-bodied red like Pinot Noir, pick a glass with a wider brim.
For white wines, a small glass with a narrow mouth is usually the way to go. However, don’t forget to serve those full-bodied whites in a wider glass to experience the aromas. When it comes to sparkling wines, opt for a long-stemmed glass to avoid over-warming the drink with unnecessary hand contact.
There are many factors that can affect your wine drinking experience, and choosing the right wine glass is just one way to get the most out of your bottle. To learn more about the best ways to serve wine, check out our blog, which is loaded with helpful tips.