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If you’ve made the slightest effort to shop for wine glasses lately, you know that the options are seemingly endless and the whole ordeal can be a bit confusing. There is a glass and without a stem; glasses specially shaped for red, white or sparkling wine; and even more derivatives beyond that. Truth be told, we wouldn’t be surprised if you left your search without wine glasses in hand, but with tons of questions you didn’t even know you had.
With so many different types of wine glasses available, settling on just one can be seriously overwhelming. It also makes many people wonder: does the type of wine glass you use even matter?
To find out, we reached out to a few people who work in the wine world and would know best. It turns out that there are many different opinions about the glass, even among wine experts.
Here’s what you need to know.
Does it matter what type of wine glass you use?
The answer to this question depends a lot on what kind of wine drinker you are. If you’re a serious wine drinker interested in deciphering the nuances of flavor, then the type of wine glass absolutely matters, he says Kara Flaherty, Certified Sommelier and Beverage Director at Take Root Hospitality Restaurant Group. But more casual and novice wine drinkers don’t need to stress about wine glasses.
Erica Taylor, a sommelier, wine merchant and educator, says glassware helps people fully experience the wine they drink. This includes noticing the flavors and aromas of the wine and the way it hits your palate.
If you’re drinking wine just for the alcohol content, you can pull it straight from the bottle, she said. However, if you’re after that full experience, you’ll want to put some thought into your glass choices.
Pavel Lysek, head of services in the company Saptha in Denver, Colorado, believes that drinking wine is about enjoyment and fun, and it doesn’t matter what type of wine glass you use.
“The most important element is to love what’s in the bottle – the glass is just a vehicle for that,” says Lysek. “If you enjoy drinking wine by the glass, or if you enjoy collecting high-end hand-blown glass, there’s never a bad way to enjoy your favorite bottle of wine.”
What type of wine glass should you use?
Each type of wine glass has subtle differences designed to bring out the flavors and aromas of different styles of wine. Let’s start simply with the main differences between red and white wine glasses.
“White wine glasses have a smaller bowl to preserve aroma, enhance acidity and keep the wine cooler,” says Taylor. “Red wine glasses have larger bowls that allow more air [to come] in contact with wine to enhance aromas and reduce the perception of higher alcohol.”
In addition to red and white wine glasses, here are some of the most common types of wine glasses you’ll come across, along with some tips on when to use them.
Universal wine glasses, also known as all-purpose wine glasses, will get the job done no matter what type of wine you’re drinking. If you want to go the minimum with one type of wine glass that goes with everything, this is a good choice. They’re great for white wines, Flaherty says, but you can also use them for red wine.
“These are the ones that look like big fish bowls on the bottom,” says Flaherty. They have a wider and larger bowl than Bordeaux wine glasses and then taper towards the edge of the glass, allowing the wine drinker to experience more delicate and delicate flavors. These work well for lighter red wines such as Gamay and Pinot noir.
Bordeaux glasses are large and tall red wine glasses with a minimal taper towards the rim. The shape of the glass helps you experience the taste and aroma of the wine. They are a good choice for drinking full-bodied red wines such as cabernet sauvignon and merlot.
Champagne flutes º you know, the ones you use for a toast at a wedding – they’re slim and tall. Champagne glasses are festive and can be used for any type of sparkling wine. The narrow and elongated shape helps keep the wine nice and bubbly.
But there’s one caveat: The shape of the glass makes it hard to smell the wine, which can actually mask the taste a bit. “Think about it, if you stuff your nose and eat something, you can’t really taste it,” says Flaherty. “That’s something you do when you use the flute.
For optimal bubbles and aroma, Taylor recommends a tulip-shaped champagne glass. If you’re considering a coupe glass, you might want to reconsider—a coupe isn’t ideal for drinking sparkling wine.
“A coupe glass may look sexy, but it causes too much wine to be in contact with the air, which causes the aromas to escape and the bubbles to fall flatter earlier,” she says.
Is it ok to use a stemless wine glass?
That’s another matter of preference. If you are tempted by glasses without temples, go for it. If you prefer a stem, that works too. For casual wine drinkers, stemless wine glasses are perfectly fine, but some experts advocate stemmed wine glasses.
Holding the glass by the bowl can cause your wine to warm faster, “which changes the aroma and the experience,” says Taylor. “If you hold the white wine by the bowl, it warms up, and then you might feel the need to add ice to dilute the flavors and aromas.”
If you only want to buy one type of wine glass, what should you get?
Taylor recommended that you think about the type of wine you drink most often and buy wine glasses based on that. “If you’re someone who mostly drinks big bold reds at home, buy a glass like this,” he says. “If you love crisp whites and roses but rarely drink a big bold cab, go to what [fits] your drinking preference.”
You can also use universal or universal glass. “If you’re going to buy one type, you get a one-size-fits-all solution,” says Flaherty.
Is there anything wrong with drinking wine from a mug or glass?
A lot of it comes down to personal preference, so if that’s your preference, go for it. “If you feel safe and more comfortable drinking wine out of a coffee mug, go for it,” says Flaherty. “There’s no way it’s going to ruin the wine.”
Wine glasses can enhance the flavors and aromas of your wine, which can be helpful if you are a wine connoisseur or trying to learn more about wine. But if you just want to enjoy a glass of wine without delving deep into all its nuances, go for whatever type of drinking vessel you like best.
“At the end of the day, however you enjoy the wine is the right way to enjoy the wine,” says Taylor.