A Wine Drinker’s Guide to Wine Glass Types

Have you been using the wrong glass with your preferred sipper of choice?

A wine glass isn’t just a vessel for any drink, let alone any type of wine.

That’s right. Different wines need different wine glasses to get the most out of their taste and aromas. 

In this wine glass guide, we’re covering all the parts of a wine glass and what makes each glass perfect for a particular wine.

Collection of wine glasses

Wine Glass Parts

A wine glass has four main parts: bowl, base, stem, and rim, each with its own uniquely important function.

  • Bowl: This part of the glass holds the wine and will vary depending on how much oxygen the surface area of the wine needs (which we will get into a bit later).
  • Base: The lowest part on which the weight of the glass is supported, allowing you to set it on surfaces.
  • Stem: Set between the bowl and the glass, a wine glass stem allows the drinker to pick the glass up easily. It also regulates wine temperature. The longer the stem, the cooler the temperature of the wine, and vice versa.
  • Rim: The part that moves the wine from the glass to the palate. A thinner rim is often thought to make for a smoother sipping experience. 
    Pouring red wine into a decanter

    Red vs. White Wine Glasses

    Just like with a decanter, red wine glasses and white wine glasses play slightly different roles when it comes to aeration, otherwise known as letting your wine “breathe.” 

    Red wine glasses have larger bowls compared to white wine glasses. This is because red wines are full of robust tannins and a fuller body, meaning their surface area needs more exposure to oxygen for their flavors and aromas to open up. A larger bowl allows more oxygen to become trapped inside.

    Most white wines have lighter bodies and flavors with delicate aromas, so a smaller bowl serves them well, as they don’t need as much oxygen as red wine. These smaller bowls also allow aromas to sit closer to the nose. 

    A Wine Drinker's Guide to Wine Glass Types Infographic

    Types of Wine Glasses

    With an array of premium wines to choose from, there are many different wine glass categories to accommodate their unique qualities. 

    Let’s look at a few of our favorite types of red wine, white wine, and delicate wine glasses below.

    Check out our infographic about types of wine glasses for more clarity!

    Cabernet Sauvignon Glasses

    Cabernet Sauvignon glasses have a broad bowl narrow opening and are incredibly tall. This enhances the wine’s aromas and allows more air to accumulate for better wine breathing.

    Sauvignon Blanc Glasses

    Ideal for fruity and floral wines, Sauvignon Blanc glasses are tall with slender bowls. This captures the nuance of its delicate aromas, guiding them to the nose. Since the sides of the mouth detect acidity, the glass’s design guides wine down the center of the tongue for a more balanced sipping experience.

    Chardonnay Glasses

    Full-bodied white wines like Chardonnay are the exception and may need to be sipped in a red wine glass for the fullest effect. However, specific Chardonnay glasses have a larger opening, guiding the wine to the tip and sides of the tongue. This opens up the aromas and flavors, allowing the wine to taste sweeter while balancing its acidity.

    Burgundy Glasses

    Similar to a Pinot Noir glass, Burgundy wine glasses boast a large, broad bowl with a narrow top. This brings out the wine’s more delicate notes, allowing the sipper to detect more complex flavors. 

    Bordeaux Glasses

    The tallest red wine glass, these glasses are long-stemmed with wide bowls. Since Bordeaux wines are often more tannic and bitter, the design creates distance between the wine and the mouth, allowing more oxygen into the wine and softening its robust characteristics. 

    Sparkling Wine Glasses

    We’ve all seen Champagne flutes at parties, with their tall, narrow stems and sleek, slender design. Champagne glasses are designed to keep carbonation concentrated so the wine won’t go flat. 

    There is a less popular sparkling wine glass known as a coupe glass, which features a broader-shaped bowl. While it’s fun for roaring 20s parties, the design unfortunately fails to keep the wine as fizzy as other designs. 

    Lastly, there’s the tulip glass, which is similar to a Champagne glass, though it bears a slightly wider bowl and narrow rim, which directs more aromas to the nose. 

    Rose Wine Glasses

    Like tulip glasses, Rose glasses have long stems designed to keep the fruity blush wine cool at its ideal serving temperature. While many Rose glasses have a diamond shape with softer bowls, there is also a difference between young Rose and aged Rose glasses. 

    Young Rose glasses have a flared rim, directing the crisp, gentle wine to the most sensitive areas of the tongue. 

    Aged Rose glasses have a tapered rim, pushing aromas to the top of the glass, creating a more sophisticated tasting experience.

    Dessert Wine Glasses

    If you want to bring the most out of your after-dinner Port or Sherry, serving your dessert wine in its designated, smaller wine glass is ideal. The smaller wine glass size is perfect for directing the wine to the tip and back of the mouth, creating an optimal flavor explosion. Smaller pours are also best for accommodating the high sugar and alcohol content of these wines.

    Stemless Wine Glasses

    These handy sipping glasses may be on trend, but they might not lend to the best-tasting experience. Sure, they eliminate the fear of knocking over and breaking a glass, but because your hand is directly touching the area where the wine is, it will eventually warm past optimate sipping temperatures. 

    Wine Tasting Glasses

    Lastly, the standard wine-sipping glass was built for aeration and anti-spillage with its rounded bowls and tapered size. As designated by the International Standards Organization, this type of glass is recognized worldwide for delivering the proper taste and aromas to the palate. 

    Glass of white wine

    Glass vs. Crystal Wine Glasses

    Much like aeration and different types of wine glasses may enhance our perception of the wine, so can the material of the wine glass impact the experience. 

    For a smoother, more effortless tasting experience, crystal is the way to go. Crystal is thinner and stronger than glass as it is more flexible. In other words, it feels like there’s nothing between your palate and the wine glass at all! Crystal also refracts light, giving your wine a more sparkly appearance. 

    Glass, on the other hand, is better if you do not want to wash all that crystal by hand. Glass is more durable in the dishwasher and also more affordable, so it’s a great low-maintenance option. 

    If you’re willing to invest, we suggest crystal!

    Sipping 101

    While wine glasses may seem simple on the surface, the slightest changes can change your perception of the wine. 

    It’s fascinating to realize how much stemware impacts wine, as something as minute as the length of the stem or glass shape can alter temperature and carbonation.

    Remember that red wines need wider bowls for more oxygen, white wines need slightly smaller bowls, dessert wines need smaller glasses since they’re potent sippers, and delicate wines are perfect in elongated, sometimes tulip-shaped glasses. 

    Shop the best Glasses and Stemware at Macy’s Wine Shop today and get the most out of your winetasting!

    Don’t forget to shop for a wine with your wine glass with our broad selection here!