wikiHow to Choose Wine Glasses for a Wine

There are hundreds of styles of wineglasses designed for different purposes and types of wine. But for most wine drinking and wine tasting a few key characteristics can make your choice of wineglasses easy. Here are a few guidelines to help you choose.


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    Choose two different types or sizes of wineglasses. Select smaller wineglasses for white wine and larger glasses for red wine. Generally, more full-bodied wines work best in slightly larger glasses while lighter, fruitier wines can do well in smaller glasses. The reason that white wine glasses need to be smaller is that white wine should not warm up too much before it is consumed. As for the size of red wine glasses, the more generous, the better, to allow for a third fill and the rest of the glass permitting aeration.
    • Select a balloon shaped wineglass to allow the wine to promote better flavor and to allow the wine to develop its full bouquet. Wine needs room to breathe and a tapered shape is the best for releasing the aroma.
    • For still wine, have a fine, plain and colorless glass. If the glass is chunky, has designs or color, you won't be able to appreciate the appearance of the wine inside.[1]
    • Wine expert Joanna Simon recommends that a glass should be able to fit a quarter bottle of wine to about a third to half of the glass.[2]
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    Choose fluted or tulip-shaped (champagne) glasses for sparkling wines and champagne. This shape helps keep the bubbles intact for longer and ensure the best flavor and aroma while drinking the sparkling wine.
    • Avoid using the Champagne saucer or coupe for champagne; it causes both bubbles and bouquet to disappear instantly.[3]
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    Look for cut over rolled edges to the glass. This is more finished look and feels pleasant to the mouth touch.
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    For wine accompanying dinner, choose wine glasses that are slightly larger so that they can accommodate larger pours, around 4 to 6 oz each, while still having ample empty space in the bowl.
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    For wine tasting events, choose small, inexpensive glasses. Wineglasses just for tasting wine at a wine tasting party don't need to be as pretty or expensive. Indeed, since you will often need many and some are liable to be broken by guests, prefer cheaper ones for such occasions. Smaller tasting glasses are optimal, particularly if many wines will be served at one time and over the course of the evening. They are easier to clean and you can fit more in front of each guest on the table. Also, tasting pours tend to be smaller so that each wine can make it around to each guest and each guest can drink more wines without getting too tipsy. A small pour in a very large glass can get lost and be hard to assess how much has been consumed.
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    For serving fine wines, choose glasses that are clear in color and do not have any painted or etched decorations. While colored glass and decorations may make the glass pretty to look at, it detracts from the appreciation of the wine inside, particularly for wine tastings.
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    Purchase the best wineglasses that you can afford. The experience as a whole when drinking wine matters, including the glass.
    • While you can find good deals on stemware on the internet through various companies, it is best to see the glasses firsthand to really appreciate their clarity, size and how they feel in your hand.
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    Prefer dishwasher-proof wineglasses over hand-wash only. This will save you time and effort.
    • Wineglasses made from glass can be washed in the dishwasher and provide easy care. For non-greasy glasses, wash them on the shortest cycle without detergent. For dirtier glasses, use a little detergent but no rinsing aid. Open the door at the end of the cycle to let the glasses air dry without humidity.[4]
    • For hand-washing, use hot water and a minimum of detergent.
    • If you do choose crystal glasses, expect them to require a bit more care and as they are delicate and can only washed by hand.


  • If getting glasses that go in the dishwasher, choose stems that are not too fragile or too long.
  • Most fine wine shops, beverage stores and kitchen supply shops have a wide selection of wineglasses. Shop around and ask for help.
  • Always rinse glasses before use if they have been unused for a while or are new. Rinsing with hot water before use can remove any detergent residue which can cause the bubbles in sparkling wine to go flat.
  • For fine crystal wineglasses, some companies release factory seconds which have some small imperfection in the glass. While some of these are not desirable, some are minor and purely cosmetic. The glasses will serve perfectly well for serving and tasting wine. They are a good option for those trying to save money. Again, it is best to assess these in person before buying to be sure the quality is adequate.
  • Whatever you choose, avoid glasses that flare outward at the top as these make assessing a fine wine almost impossible. Also avoid very small glasses.
  • Look at the glass. Does it appear elegant and perfect or chunky and ugly? Appearance is very important when making your choice. This factor should be the deciding one after the glasses have met the other criteria.
  • Riedel glasses are very good. They are expensive but lovely.
  • Store the wineglasses properly. There is an increasing habit to store all glasses upside down. For wineglasses this is not a good idea as it traps stale air.[5] Instead, stand them upright in a closed cupboard. Any glass not used for a while needs to be washed before use.
  • The International Standards Organization (ISO) glass makes an ideal tasting glass size, as well as for port.[6]

Things You'll Need

  • Retail locations selling wineglasses

Sources and Citations

  1. Joanna Simon, Discovering Wine, p.24, (2003), ISBN 1-84000-732-X
  2. Joanna Simon, Discovering Wine, p.24, (2003), ISBN 1-84000-732-X
  3. Joanna Simon, Discovering Wine, p.24, (2003), ISBN 1-84000-732-X
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