Have you ever noticed how many different types of wine glasses there are? There are stemless glasses, glasses with short and wide bowls, glasses with tall and thin bowls, hand-blown glasses, machine made glasses and many more. If you’re a fan of the television show Scandal, you may even have seen Olivia Pope’s signature glasses with an extra-long stem and large bowl.
If you’re anything like me, you probably have no idea why there are so many styles of wine glasses. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! At a recent photo shoot for Peju’s holiday catalog, my boss asked me to bring her a white Burgundy glass rather than a red Bordeaux glass. She may as well have been speaking a different language, because I had no idea what she meant. Aren’t there just small glasses and bigger glasses? I know some have stems and some do not, and that champagne flutes are tall and slender, but I had no idea what the difference between a red and white or a Burgundy and Bordeaux glass was, or why it even mattered. Thankfully, my coworker knew the difference and she was able to show me.
After the photo shoot, I was determined to understand the difference between types of wine glasses. I did a lot of research, and even experimented by tasting with different glasses, and I came up with a few of my own conclusions. Different glasses are designed for different varieties of wine, and while there are reasons to use different glasses, you do not need to own every type of wine glass made. If you’re in the market for new glassware, or you’re trying to figure out what to serve your next bottle in, my wine glass guide is here to help!
Red wine glasses are inherently taller and have a bigger bowl than white wine glasses. The main reason for this is that red wine often needs to breathe or aerate before it is enjoyed, and a larger bowl allows the wine to breathe faster. So, what is the difference between a Burgundy and Bordeaux glass? A Burgundy glass has a shorter, wider bowl and a shorter stem; a Bordeaux glass has a taller bowl and taller stem. While glasses made for specific varieties can greatly enhance your wine drinking experience, it’s okay to stick with one type of glass for red wine while you’re starting your collection. Opt for a set of glasses with a bigger bowl for reds to differentiate them from your white wine glasses.
In general, white wine glasses are smaller since the wine does not need to breathe. Additionally, smaller glasses allow the wine to stay cool longer, since white wines are served chilled. It’s also important to remember to serve white wine in a glass with a stem. While I love stemless glasses for a fun girl’s night in or a causal backyard barbecue, a glass with a stem ensures that you are not transferring heat from you hand and changing the temperature of the wine.
Sparkling wine should be served in a tall, slender flute. Champagne flutes encourage bubbles to continue rising to the top and focuses the aromas of the wine. Plus, champagne flutes are very elegant. A piece of advice: when picking out your champagne flutes, make sure that the opening is big enough to easily wash the glass! Extremely slender flutes are difficult to wash and often end up breaking during the process.
Color and Weight
Part of the wine drinking experience is looking at the wine and studying its color. While it may seem fun to have colored wine glasses, stick with clear crystal glass so that you and your guests can observe the color without interference. Additionally, keep in mind how the glass feels in your hand. Glasses that are too heavy are less enjoyable to hold, while glasses that are delicate may break easily. Try to choose a glass that is just sturdy enough to withstand hand-washing and clinking glasses, but light enough to be able to hold for an extended period of time.
Overall, determining what type of wine glass to use may seem overwhelming, but don’t stress too much. When you’re serving wine at home, it’s good to have a few different sets, but you don’t need a different glass for each wine variety you drink. If you’re just starting out, stick with three types of glasses: one set each for red, white and sparkling wine. You can always utilize your knowledge of wine glass varieties during your next wine tasting trip. Cheers!