Luxury comes in many forms, with one of the best having to be the experience of indulging in a really good glass of wine with a distinct flavor profile. If you keep a few bottles at a time stocked in your home bar, you know how satisfying sipping wine can be.
You also probably know that there’s no universal glass for drinking. When you’re enjoying wine, you don’t pour it into martini glasses or a Moscow mule mug — you have specific glasses just for your wine.
While the art of creating different wines in itself is a complex art form with deep-rooted traditions and modern innovations, so is the art of wine glasses. Whether you’re drinking champagne, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, or another variety, every sommelier knows that the right glass enhances the wine-tasting experience.
Many times it is the bottle of wine that calls upon the critics and top connoisseurs. Debates will be had about the fermentation process of the grapes, the oak barrels that were used, the quality of the vintage season, and the foods it best pairs with.
But wine really is only as good as the wine glasses it is poured into. And it has been that way since the medieval ages dating all the way back to Venice, Italy — where wine glasses were first created. Back in the 1400s, this jewel of Italy was the epicenter for the glassblowing industry, with artisans and glassblowers from all over the world migrating here to learn the art of making clear glass.
Back then, all wine glasses had stems, but over the years it has evolved to learn how to make a stronger wine glass, the value extra curves have for enhancing aromas, and even having the option for stemless wine glasses too.
So after a few too many years in and out of lockdown and drinking far too much wine for sanity’s sake, it is likely you have been inspired from a cooking class to put effort into the details — including the collection of wine glasses you keep.
While some wine drinkers are more than happy to drink out of a tumbler or even a goblet, the best chefs agree that the type of wine glasses you pour into really matters. Experts in the wine industry have found that wine really does perform best based on the wine glass it is sipped from, with key qualities being the transparency and width of the bowl, the tapering of the rim, and the ability for the aromas of the wine to travel up to the beholder of the wine glass.
In fact, we’d go as far as to say that wine glass pairing skills are just as important as culinary skills you use in the kitchen. A great glass of wine can actually make or break a delicious meal. So it is important to go the extra mile and serve up the wine in the best types of wine glasses.
So for those who are wondering how to choose the right wine glass, we have rounded up the top ones recommended by experts, as well as offering up some basic facts around what makes wine glasses so important in the overall culinary experience.
The Wine Glass Basics
Before we get into what the experts recommend, let us first spill the basic facts about wine glasses.
Wine has always been seen as a strange and special type of drink. And since the medieval days, this drink has always gotten a different type of glassware to drink from compared to other beverages. This is because even back in the day, it was known that the type of glassware you drink wine from can ensure that your wine-sipping experience is amazing.
Types of Wine Glasses
There is a variety of glassware designed for a variety of wines with four main ones.
1. The Red Wine Glass
This is often the most easily identifiable and shaped after the goblets from the medieval ages. The main characteristic of this wine glass is that there will be a less tapered rim for swirling the wine, as well as a large width of the bow.
The design features are implemented to maximize sensual pleasure from the aromas while also making it easier for you to identify all the various flavours within the wine you poured. You might see an oversized red wine glass without a stem and with its own unique shape. However, many glasses designed for reds have stems.
2. The White Wine Glass
It is pretty easy to tell white-specific glasses apart from a typical red wine glass. This is because the white wine glasses are designed to be more of an upright U-shape rather than a wide bowl. The reason for the slimmer design is to help preserve aromas and colder temperatures all at once. The stems are often much longer too, with the extra length allowing the wine to divulge your entire mouth with every sip for maximum flavour sensations.
3. The Dessert Wine Glass
Some of the best things in life are served sweet. And with anything sweet, it is all about quality over quantity. That is why the dessert wine glass design is the shortest and smallest of them all because the wine poured within these is at a whole new level of wetness.
This is done on purpose so your taste buds do not become overwhelmed with the powerful flavours that emerge with every sip. The intricacies of the dessert wine glass designs vary, but with the constant feature of it being significantly smaller than the rest.
4. The Sparkling Wine Glass
You know you have really “arrived” somewhere when you are greeted with a champagne flute. The classic champagne glass is the narrowest of them all and is designed to allow for the extra carbonation from the type of wine that will be poured in.
The reason that the rim of this wine glass is so small is to prevent the sparkling wine from overflowing from too much carbonation. The stem is also extremely long on this type of wine glass so you can hold it easily without compromising the temperature of the wine itself — as this one is best served chilled.
General Wine Glass Characteristics
1. Bigger Means Bolder
The bigger the bowl of the wine glass, the better suited it is for a full-bodied wine. This means that those dark and rich red wines such as syrah will be poured in a much wider wine glass than champagne, which gets served in more flute-shaped glassware. It is also important to note that sweet dessert wine such as port will come in the smallest shaped glass of them all.
2. There Is an Art to the Pour
The pour of the wine into a wine glass equally matters. Most wine glasses are designed to hold the aroma of a specific wine, with most meant to hold no more than five to six ounces in the 17-25 ounce cup. Whatever you do, do not overfill. If you drink it all up, you can re-pour. But too much wine into any wine glass will detract from the aroma and the overall drinking experience the glassware was designed to provide you with.
3. The Stems Are Logical
While there is a growing trend nowadays to have stemless wine glasses, the stem itself was incorporated into the initial designs for a practical reason. That is to prevent the heat of your hands from warming up the wine. The stem is supposed the be held so the wine can remain at the perfect temperature as you sip away.
4. Thinner Is Not Always Better
Now, the thinner and more delicate the wine glass is, the more exquisite it is considered to be. But sometimes, for practicality’s sake, thinner is not always better. The more delicate the wine glass is, the more careful you will need to be both when you wash it and when you use it. So sometimes having wine glasses that are a bit more durable allows you to even put them in the dishwasher — should you dare!
Top Wine Glasses Experts Recommend
So now, which wine glass to get? Selecting a wine glass is often compared to shopping for a car. All are designed to function, but some simply function better than others. Plus, personal preference will play a huge role in this too. So we have rounded up the experts to recommend the best wine glasses you need to try.
1. The Classic One: Wide and Curved
Traditions are always great to uphold, and the same goes for wine glasses. Some of the best wine glasses are the ones that are used to create knock-off versions. So rather than go for the inexpensive and copycat version, go for the original. The thinness of the glass will seem near impossible, with it feeling like nothing to lift up for every sip.
But more so than that, the stem of the original classic is incredibly sturdy. So sturdy that you will never have to worry about your swirling technique — it is so strong yet flexible you will be able to get all the aromas and flavours prompted for each and every indulgent sip.
The classic wine glasses that all the knock-off versions try to envy do come at a steeper price, but the quality is worth every cent. In fact, many restaurants are known to swap out the knock-off version with the real version if you order a bottle of wine that is expensive enough. These wine glasses are not just good for one type of wine. They are able to deliver exceptional sipping experiences with reds and whites alike.
2. The Go-to Red Wine One: Generously Sized and Sturdy
You can never go wrong with a glass of red wine. In fact, many people make it their evening treat after a long day of work. But because red wines tend to have fuller bodies to them, the design of the wine glass really matters in terms of resulting taste. This wine glass is designed to suit all varieties of red wine while ensuring the unique flavour profiles of each type of red you pour within are upheld.
This go-to red wine glass tends to come in a collection of four, so it is perfect for hosting friends at home. But best of all, the sturdiness of the glass allows this one to go in the dishwasher rather than having to hand wash it every time. Convenience matters too when it comes to drinking wine.
3. The Geometric One: Modern and Sharp
For those that love a good glass of chardonnay or any other type of white, this geometric wine glass is one that you must absolutely try. The sharp lines are incorporated to enhance the tasting notes of any white wine while ensuring the glass itself boasts a modern design. The silhouette is sharp and the rim of the glass is ever so lightly lipped, giving an end result of the aromas being at the perfect level of intensity.
This go-to white wine glass comes in a set of six and is surprisingly affordable. Made from crystal glass, it is best to hand wash when you can as the long stems can make it challenging to fit safely within some dishwashers.
4. The One Without the Stem: Short and Stumpy
Wine tumblers are absolutely trending this year. And the experts agree that this is a good thing. While boasting a much more casual design, the lack of the stem enables wine drinkers to enjoy sipping in the most casual of environments.
Because the stem prevents hand heat from altering the temperature, it is likely going to be a better experience drinking red from this type of wine glass. However, these wine glasses actually have various shapes to suit different types of wine — including some whites like Riesling and sauvignon blanc. Every household needs at least a pair of tumblers on hand and these ones with a variety of shapes to choose from are the best ones to welcome into your kitchen.
5. The One With the Best Crystal: Unique and Supportive
The whole point of the wine glass is to be supportive of the wine-drinking experience. So this crystal wine glass is one of the best drinking buddies to have around. And what makes this wine glass so special? It is the actual crystal that they use. This crystal glass is delicate and has been handled with care since the start of the process.
This means that the glass itself has been hand-blown and the end result supports all types of white and red wines alike. An extra unique feature in this wine glass is the double bend that is incorporated into the design. Its purpose is to help get accurate pours — with the first bend signaling where you should pour for a quick wine tasting and the second bend indicating the average full pour.
6. The Flute Wine Glass: Bubbles’ Best Friend
There is always a time and a place for drinking bubbles, and when that time does come you want to make sure that you have the best wine glass on hand to support the ultimate pour. The best flute wine glass will be designed in a tulip shape and have a long stem so the beverage itself can remain chilled. Most of these wine glasses also have a wide middle and narrow top to support carbonation and aromatics.
Best of all, this type of wine glass is known for also being very sturdy and durable while keeping its elegant design. This is important because bubbles tend to make everyone loosen up and get right into having a good tie. So you want to have a wine glass on hand that supports the vivacious energy in the room that occurs as the result of popping open that bottle of champagne.
7. The Really, Really Large Wine Glass: Big and Bold
We all need that one extra -large wine glass for those deliciously bold red wines at home. This one is designed on the larger side, able to hold up to 31 ounces of wine within. While the proper pours should still be on the conservative side, it allows for needing less frequent top-ups of your wine.
And while the larger bowls are meant to support the red wines, all the white wines work fantastically in this wine glass too.
8. The One With a Hint of Colour: Drink the Rainbow
While wine glasses have traditionally been clear, modern technology and craftsmanship have allowed wine glasses to evolved to hint at various hues of colour too. Drinking delicious wine is a festive and celebratory occasion. So to really get in the mood, experts recommend a wine glass with a pop of colour mixed in.
The best ones come in hues of various jewel tones and you can build a mix and matched set. The fun part about a coloured wine glass is that when you do drink from it, the shades of colour change depending on the type of wine you have poured in. So no drinking experience will ever really be the same. And that is what we mean when we say that with a coloured wine glass, you can literally drink the rainbow.
9. The One That Is Unbreakable: Plastic and BPA Free
Have you ever had the cringe-worthy moment when you are happily sipping away and start theatrically using your hands to tell an engaging story — only to mistakenly break it as a result? There is a spillage, sadness, and the loss of some delicious wine as a result.
That is why experts also recommend having some plastic wine glasses that you can safely and confidently use in these types of environments. The best ones to invest in are designed with BPA-free material and made for an outdoor environment that is also dishwasher safe.
10. The One You Can Take on the Go: Travel Tumblers
Sometimes you have a need to take your wine on the go. Say you are attending an outdoor concert or having a picnic in the park. Taking a wine glass designed as a travel tumbler is a sure way to be able to bring your wine with you in a spill-proof way.
Experts recommend going for a wine glass travel tumbler that can hold at least half a bottle of wine, that way you do not have to travel with the actual bottle itself. The best ones will also be insulated, ensuring the temperature of the beverage remains the same as when you first poured it in. These travel tumblers, since they are not made of actual crystal clear glass, provide the potential to have more patterns or colours incorporated into them. And the very best ones will last you a lifetime.
Now that is certainly something we can ‘cheers’ to!
11. The Affordable Wine Glass: Cheap and Cheerful
While you can drop quite a bit of money when it comes to buying the best wine glasses available, remember that there are equally affordable options you can look into as well. While you will not be drinking from the crème de la crème of crystal glass, you will still get a similar curated wine drinking experience — with aromatics still a top priority.
The benefit of using the more affordable wine glass is that you can get an enhanced wine drinking experience on any budget. This means that no matter what your budget is or at what stage in life you are at, you do not have to simply succumb to a water glass or red cup. Instead, you can have an elevated experience through a detailed wine glass that is created for the enhancement of wine drinking.
These 11 wine glasses are just the beginning of ones you could explore using. The world of wine glasses is ever-growing and brands are always evolving the ways in which people can enjoy wine.
In general, the main principles that made wine glasses so special all those years ago still remain. Each detail of the wine glass serves an important purpose for the overall wine-drinking experience. From the curves of the bowl and lip to the step and height, wine glasses, in general, are designed to elevate aromatics.
If you are wanting to find a wine glass that matches your most expensive bottle, you will want to invest in a handblown wine glass designed for that specific type of wine. But if you are simply wanting to have a wine glass that can travel with you on a boat, to the park, or along the beach then a wine tumbler is the way to go.
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Whatever wine glass you decide to sip from, know that it was curated specifically to support your wine drinking endeavours!
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