Beginner’s Guide To Wine Glasses

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Pairing the proper wine for your meal has been a staple in entertaining for as long as wine has been around. One subtle aspect of enjoying wine that people often overlook is glassware. In our Beginner’s Guide to Wine Glasses, we will share with you everything you need to know to enjoy your favorite vintage to the fullest. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, now would be a great time to check out our Valentine’s Day No-Cook Charcuterie Board. This simple, elegant, and quick treat is sure to delight your special someone.

Wine Glass Design

To keep things simple, we will focus on red wine, white wine, and champagne. There are millions of variations within those three categories, but we will keep it short and sweet for now. There are 2 distinct parts of a wine glass, the Bowl and Stem, that help us identify what type of glass to use for optimum flavor and taste. It is worth noting that the foot of a wine glass is a component, but is not noteworthy other than they vary depending on the size of the glass. They are simply there to provide stability (which is an important job), but add nothing to enjoyment of wine.

The Bowl

Depending on the type of wine you’re drinking the ideal shape and size of the bowl will differ. There are even stemless wine glasses, which are basically just the bowl. The bowl doesn’t just give you something fancy to hold in your hand. It also operates as a decanter. Decanting is the process of exposing the wine to air, allowing the flavors to develop further. As you might have guessed, larger bowls allow far more air than the smaller ones, which is a huge bonus for red wines. Red wines will benefit from the additional air flow, which helps the wine to “open up”. The amount of wine poured into the bowl will also impact the aroma of the wine. For proper flavor and taste, wine should be poured to the widest point in the glass.

The Stem

The length of the stem is another key indicator to help differentiate between Red and White wine glasses.  White wines glasses generally have a longer stem because white wine is best served chilled. This is also why you hold a wine glass from the stem as opposed to the bowl. The longer the stem on your glass, the further away your warm hand will be from the wine. Red wines are usually served at room temperature. Because of this, red wines are not impacted by temperature changes like white wines are.

Choosing A Glass

When selecting a wine glass I often search for the glass that will bring out the best in the wine that I am drinking. Wines have complex flavors and the wrong glass can bring out the wrong notes of the wine. Red wines have three different categories and each category has an ideal glass specifically designed to bring out the very best in the body of the wine. We will cover three types of red wine glasses in our Beginner’s Guide to Wine Glasses.

Red Wines

Bordeaux Glasses – Full bodied over 13.5% alcohol

Full Bodied red wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Malbec. As the name indicates, these wines are known for strong, rich flavor. When poured into the wrong glass, these wines can have a strong alcohol aroma to them. With a proper pour, Bordeaux Glasses are designed to put distance between your nose and the wine. This distance also allows air to flow throughout the glass. This air flow will contribute greatly to a positive tasting experience. Often these types of wines are served from a decanter to ensure there is sufficient air flow to bring out the full body of the wine while also eliminating any off-notes.

Medium-Bodied Glasses – Medium bodied between 12.5% and 13.5% alcohol

This category includes wines such as Cabernet Franc, Carignan, and some Pinot Nior vintages. Old world wines taste best when served in Medium-bodied glasses. These glasses are like the Bordeaux glass but a smaller version. Medium-Bodied glasses help to soften the flavor of the wine. The shape of the glass keeps the alcohol aroma in the glass, similar to the larger Bordeaux glasses.

Burgundy Glasses – Light Bodied under 12.5% alcohol

Light-bodied wines include some Pinot Nior vintages or Gamay. Burgundy wine glasses tend to have a shorter lip. This shorter lip allows the wine to reach your full palate. These glasses have a very distinguished shape. Burgundy glasses are easy to spot because the center appears wider than the top or the bottom.

White Wines

As you may have guessed, white wines also have a variety of glasses that will bring out the best in flavor and taste. White wines are the opposite of the reds. They should be as close to your nose as they can be. Because of this, you are able to smell the sweet aroma that white wines are known for. Therefore, the bowls are shorter, bringing the wine closer to your nose when you drink. Whites wine glasses have 2 distinct types that we will cover in our Beginner’s Guide to Wine Glasses.

High-Acid Glasses

Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Rieslings and Rose wines are examples of high acid white wines. High-acid glasses are generally smaller than full-bodied glasses. Their shorter design allows for the wine to touch the middle of your palate as you sip. These glasses bring out the best in the wine.

Full-Bodied Glasses

Chardonnays are a classic example of a Full-bodied white wine. The opening of a full-bodied glass is wider than a high-acid glass, but not as wide as a red wine glass. This design allows the aroma of the wine to flow past your nose, greatly enhancing aroma.

Champagne Flute

There are some other noteworthy types of glasses. A Champagne Flute for example. Some prefer to drink their champagne from a Burgundy glass, but most enjoy their celebration bubbly from a traditional flute. The Flute bowl is long and narrow with a long stem. The rim is small allowing for the sweet aroma to please your nose.

Universal Glasses

There are also universal glasses you can purchase if you would like to enjoy your wine without the fuss of selecting just the right glass. Stemless wine glasses also come as universal glasses and have increased in popularity over recent years. I have used universal glasses and stemless glasses. If you look closely, you may even see one photographed with a charcuterie board every now and again. In my experience, I find they do not take anything away from my experience.


We hope you enjoyed our Beginner’s Guide to Wine Glasses. In addition, we are sure that you will use the insights you have gained to enjoy your wine to the fullest! Please take time to check out our other articles and recipes. In addition, we have charcuterie boards for all occasions and tastes in our Etsy shop. We also have a selection of end-grain and edge-grain chopping blocks available as well. You can click the E in the sidebar, header, or footer of this page to go directly to our Etsy shop, or you can click here to see our selection of lovely boards on the site.

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