Types of Wine Glasses

Dec 24, 2019

Ok, we’ve all conquered the silverware, right? (start on the outside, work your way in. I think.) But what about all these fancy wine glasses. And it’s not just wine! Order a craft beer and you may get a specialty glass as well. So why are there so many different glasses, does it make a difference, and how can you tell which one to use? Let’s break it down…

Bullet point uno: stemmed or stemless doesn’t matter, it’s all in the vessel shape, and more specifically: It’s all in the vapors, man. In fact there was a study done in Japan that used science-y cameras to take images of the way that ethanol vapors behaved in each glass. Like this:


You can read the full study HERE!

But basically these vapors affect the flavors in your wine by carrying the aromatic compounds. Sniff Sniff Yumm.

White Wine Glasses

*images thanks to Wine Folly



White wine is typically served in a smaller bowled glass.

  • Delivers aromas right to your eager nostrils.
  • Expresses more acidity in the wine.
  • Keeps temp cooler.


Red Wine Glasses



*images thanks to Wine Folly

Red wine glasses are all about mitigating the bitterness of the tannins that are higher in red wine. The Tannin level gives it that spiciness, and this helps to smooth out the flavor. The wider the glass opening, the smoother the wine taste is going to be.

The first glass in the image is a “Large Bordeaux” glass. It keeps the burn of the ethanol further from the nose, with a large area for the ethanol evaporation, while the wider opening  give the wine a smoother taste.

The second glass is a “Standard Red Wine Glass”. This option is great for a medium – full bodied wine that is spicier and might have a higher alcohol content.

The third glass is an Aroma Collecting “Bourgogne Glass”. These are great for delicate wines with subtle aromas. The large bowl and narrow opening help to collect the aroma.

Specialty Wine Glasses



*images thanks to Wine Folly

The specialty glasses include glasses for champagnes and dessert wines. The smaller port glass helps to reduce evaporation and keep aromas high. The champagne glass is tall to keep up all the bubbly awesomeness, and are easy to break.

So what does it all MEAN?

The take away here is, is your wine trying showcase it’s aroma? Smooth out it’s flavor?

Here are the quickie tips: Red wines generally like a large bowl and a large opening. It helps to smooth it out and helps oxidation for the complex flavors. White wines like a more U-shaped glass, with a smaller bowl. This helps to preserve the more subtle aromas and keeps the temperature cooler.

There are also “Universal” wine glasses that have a medium bowl between that of a red and white glass.

Some wine enthusiasts will even argue that material matters – Crystal vs. Glass. All crystal is glass but not all glass is crystal. This is determined in the lead count, and will make the glass heavier and softer for engraving. Since crystal can be spun thinner, it may offer a smoother drink by eliminating a thicker glass rim.  It can be more expensive, however, as well as more delicate and fragile.

While there are certainly more types that these, this will give you a basic understanding of why there are so many glass options, and which style to choose for your favorite wine.

Now onto types of wine bottles