A Simple Guide to Red and White Wine Glasses

There’s an unfortunate time in every bachelor’s life when he owns only one type of wine glass — two, if he’s eager to celebrate — and they both either came from Target or his parents’ garage sale when they were finally able to downsize. Expanding your knowledge beyond “standard” red glasses and champagne flutes will transform your wine experiences both at home and in fine dining establishments. Learn what’s best for your wine, whether you should let it breathe or suffocate, and put it in the right glass.

wine red white glass cheers

While you don’t need all of the glasses below, especially if you’re only an occasional wine drinker, it would be good to hone in on the one or two types of wine that you drink most often and invest in those.

Crystal vs. Glass

If you’re serious enough about cleanliness to wash your glassware by hand almost immediately after use, you might want to consider investing in crystal stemware. You can usually spot crystal in public by its shine, sparkle, and ornate design. Glass cannot be manipulated to the thinness of crystal, which makes crystal stemware much more durable than glass and is something to consider if you plan on making toasts or if you have a recklessly strong touch. Some crystal glassware is dishwasher-safe, but if this is an important factor for you, glass is a more prudent and frugal choice.

Red Wine Glasses

Cabernet Sauvignon

cabernet sauvignon red wine glass

You may recognize this as your “standard” wine glass. Preferably suited to full-bodied wines like a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, and Bordeaux, this glass cradles the wine in its wide bowl, allowing the nuances of aroma to cut through the singe of ethanol.

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Pinot Noir and Burgundy

pinot noir burgandy red wine glass

These glasses are extremely similar and can be used interchangeably. Shorter than a Cabernet glass, they both offer a tapered rim, but a Pinot glass will often break the curve of its massive bowl with a straight lip. The larger bowl allows the ethanol to evaporate for a smoother finish. In a pinch, you can also use this glass for a white Burgundy or Montrachet.

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Shiraz

shiraz red wine glass

The tallest red glass in a formal setting, the Shiraz is a one-trick pony in your home cupboard. Whether you know it as Shiraz or Syrah, this softer red responds well to the middle ground between a Cabernet and Pinot Noir glass. The curved bowl and tapered rim will make this unique red sing, but make sure you love the wine before you get the glass.

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White Wine Glasses

Chardonnay

chardonnary white wine glass

This white wine glass has an almost boastfully wide rim in order to release the spices and fruitiness of your Chardonnays. While many would peg it as a smaller Cabernet glass, it shares more similarities with that of a Pinot Noir. Like a Shiraz, this should be a specific-use glass, but you can also use it for Pinot Noirs and Burgundies.

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Sauvignon Blanc

sauvignon blanc white wine glass

Shorter and slimmer than your Chardonnay glass, the Sauvignon Blanc glass is fairly versatile. The smaller bowl brings out the acidity while the straight sides create a funnel for the complexity of your white. Whether it’s a Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or Riesling, your light white wines will rest safely in this glass.

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Sparkling Wine Glasses

Champagne

There are three main types of Champagne glasses, two of which are largely cosmetic. The popular vintage look of the coupe exposes your champagne and sparkling wines to too much air, rapidly diminishing the carbonation. The typical flute solves this too well with its long body and narrow rim. The bubbles are so well preserved in most flutes that it can be difficult to discern any flavors, which is ideal for less complex Bruts.

champagne glass flute

What you need is a tulip glass. Wide tulips are excellent for most Champagne and sparkling wines, especially when aged, while regular tulips allow the fruitiness of Proseccos and rosés to unfurl naturally. This is why you occasionally receive a mimosa in a Sauvignon Blanc glass. You want enough room for your wine to breathe, but not so much that it loses its effervescence. That way, you can toast your new wine glass collection in style.

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Article originally published by J. Fergus on May 10, 2017. Last updated by Sam Slaughter in January 2019.

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