Types of Wine Glasses
There are four basic types of wine glasses – red, white, sparkling, and dessert. On this page, you will learn about each of them.
Components of a Wine Glass
All wine glasses will have a base, a stem, and a bowl.
*Today, there is one exception - the new stemless wineglasses pioneered by Riedel. The new Reidel "O" comes in a white wine stemless wine glass and a red wine stemless wine glass.
The base, obviously, allows your glass to stand upright. The stem allows you to hold your wine glass without the heat from your hands warming your wine, and without creating smudges on the bowl which will distract from the visual enjoyment of your wine.
The bowl serves a very important purpose and it is here you will find most of the variation in wine glasses.
Wine Glass Shapes and Sizes
Every wine glass will have a slightly different shape, depending upon the type of wine that particular glass is to be used for.
All good wine glasses are shaped in a way that will direct the wine to the part of your mouth where its flavor will be most appreciated.
The bowls of all wine glasses will be tapered upward with a slightly narrower opening at the top than at the bottom. This shape helps to capture and distribute the wine's aroma toward your mouth and nose.
In all types of wine glasses, both red and white, the bowl must be large enough to swirl your wine, opening it up to more air and allowing its aromas to be released. Swirling your wine is not just for the connoisseur or the haughty, it really does serve a very important purpose.
A red wine glass bowl will be fuller and rounder with a larger opening to allow you to dip your nose into the glass to detect aroma. And, as mentioned above, the complex aromas and flavors of red wine demand a glass with a larger surface area so the wine comes in contact with more air.
For red wine, you may want both Bordeaux and a Burgundy glass. A Bordeaux glass is taller, yet the bowl is not quite as large. It is designed for full bodied, heavier red wines such as Cabernets and Merlots. The tallness of the glass allows the wine to proceed directly to the back of the mouth to maximize its flavor.
A Burgundy glass is for lighter, full bodied wines such as Pinot Noir. It is not as tall, but the bowl is larger than the Bordeaux glass, directing the wine to the tip of the tongue to taste its more delicate flavors.
A white wine glass bowl will be more U shaped and upright allowing the aromas to be released while also maintaining a cooler temperature.
For white wine, you may also want two types of wine glasses, one for younger, crisp whites and one for more mature, fuller whites.
The wine glass for younger whites has a slightly larger opening directing the wine to the tip and sides of the tongue to taste its sweetness.
The glass for more mature whites will be straighter and taller to dispense the wine to the back and sides of the tongue to taste its bolder flavors.
A sparkling wine glass (or flute) will be upright and narrower to retain the carbonation and capture the flavor in the beverage.
A dessert wine glass should be smaller to direct the wine to the back of the mouth so the sweetness doesn't overwhelm. Dessert wines generally have higher alcohol content, making the small glass perfect for a smaller serving.
Wine Glass Material
To truly appreciate the color and texture of your wine you'll want to purchase wine glasses that are clear and smooth. Taking note of the color of your wine, the “legs” of your wine, and how the light affects your wine are the first steps in evaluating and enjoying it.
The best and most practical wine glass will be made with crystal or thin glass.
Crystal or a similar glass, especially blown glass, is preferable because they are thin. Thicker glass is thought to affect the taste of your wine and to create a larger lip, making it difficult to properly sip your wine.
The types and number of wine glasses you purchase is very much a matter of personal preference.
For the average wine drinker, the four basic types of wine glasses may be all you need. For those who wish to expand their enjoyment, appreciation and knowledge of wine, you may want to invest in the more specific types of wine glasses mentioned above as well.
You can purchase good wine glasses at a decent price that may be fine for your everyday enjoyment of wine. Or, you can spend quite a lot of money on very high quality stemware that may enhance your wine tasting and drinking experience. Let your wallet and your pallet decide.