Which Types of Wine Glasses Do You Really Need?

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Who knew picking out the right type of wine glass could be so challenging? There are literally hundreds of different styles out there to choose from. Check out this cool chart from WineFolly.com that showcases all the different options available.

which types of wine glasses should you buy

With so many options, how do you know which types of wine glasses you should buy?

Crystal vs. Glass

First things first: you need to decide if you want to purchase crystal or glass stemware. This is an easy choice based on your lifestyle.

Question: Are you the type of person who hand washes special kitchen tools or things that aren’t dishwasher safe?

If the answer is ‘no’ then crystal wine glasses are NOT the right choice for you. Glass is much easier to maintain and most glassware is dishwasher safe.

If the answer is ‘yes’ you need to decide if you’d like to add more things to your needs-to-be-handwashed pile.

A Beginners Guide to Choosing Wine Glasses

If you’re just getting started in the wine game, you really only need three different wine glasses: something for red wine, something for white wine, and something for anything bubbly.

#1 Red Wine Glasses: 

The bowls of red wine glasses are larger and rounder with a bigger opening compared to other types of wine glasses. This allows the complex aromas and flavors of red wine to come out by increasing the surface area of wine exposed to air (check out this article on wine aeration to see why this is so important).

We recommend the Riedel Vinum Bordeaux Wine Glasses or the Riedel Wine Series Cabernet/Merlot Glasses

#2 White Wine Glasses:

The bowl of white wine glasses are more ‘U-shaped’ and upright compared to red wine glasses. This is primarily important for temperature control as white wines are usually served chilled. The shape of a white wine glass therefore allows the aromas to be released while also maintaining a cooler temperature.

We recommend the Riedel Vinum Extreme – Sauvignon Blanc Glasses or another great brand is the Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Glass Forte Collection

#3 Sparkling Wine or Champagne Glasses: 

A sparkling wine glass (or champagne flute) will be more narrow than most other types of wine glasses. This shape allows the liquid to retain more of the carbonation rather than go flat quickly.

We recommend the Riedel Vinum Champagne Glass or the Schott Zwiesel Stemware Fortissimo Collection

Wine Glass Brands & Sets

Riedel is one of the best known and most respected brands on the market, setting the standard for wine glasses in the industry for over half a century. Riedel’s fans have included Winston Churchill, the Duchess of Windsor and renowned wine writer Robert Parker, who says of Riedel glasses, “They are the finest glasses for both technical and hedonistic purposes.” But it’s by no means the only respectable brand out there. The real goal is to try to pick one brand you like and stick with it. That way you can build up a collection of glasses that match over time.

If you do a bit of entertaining, you’ll want to purchase each style of wine glass in a set of 6 or more. Then you’ll have plenty of glasses when friends come over (or a few extra if accidents happen). Buying in sets usually also gets you a discounted price. Win-win.

Advanced Guide to Buying Wine Glasses

If you’ve already got a solid starter set of wine glasses and you’re looking to add some specialty stemware to the mix, we’ve got you covered. Serious wine collectors often have 20 or more different styles of glasses, specifically engineered for different types of wine at different ages. Below you’ll get our recommendations for the best specialty and novelty glasses that will make you look like a wine pro in no time.

#1 Dessert Wine Glasses:

The most noticeable thing about dessert wine glasses is that they are smaller than other wine glasses in order to direct the wine to the back of the mouth. Dessert wines, as the name implies, are also much sweeter than other wines and are usually consumed in smaller portions which is evident by the size of the glass.

We recommend the Riedel Sommeliers Sauternes Glass. The unusual curved design accentuates the apricot aromas typical of wines made from grapes affected by botrytis (‘noble rot’). The glass is designed to emphasise acidity, thus balancing the wine’s liquorous sweetness and luscious finish.

#2 Burgundy Wine Glasses:

Burgundy Wine Glasses are meant for aromatic red wines. The large bowl of a Burgundy Wine Glass allows the bouquet to develop to the full, while the slightly flared top lip maximises the fruit flavors by directing a precise flow onto the front palate. Certain wines and grape varieties require this type of controlled delivery – Burgundy, Barolo or Barbaresco to name a few. By ensuring that the fruit is highlighted while using the marked acidity of the wine to keep the flavors in balance, this is a glass that produces a superbly three-dimensional ‘taste picture’.

We recommend the Riedel Sommeliers Burgundy Grand Cru. This glass was described by Decanter magazine as “The finest Burgundy glass of all time, suitable for both young and old Burgundies.”

#3 Bordeaux Wine Glasses:

Bordeaux Wine Glasses are meant for large complex red wines like Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chablis, and Merlot. The elegant full-sized bowl reveals the rich aromas of a rich, highly tannic red wine.

We recommend the Riedel Vinum Bordeaux. The large bowl (capacity 30 oz) brings out the full depth of contemporary wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. This glass gives breathing space to both young and more mature wines, unpacking the various layers of bouquet and delivering a full spectrum of aromas. On the palate, the texture of the wine – soft, silky, velvety – is intensified and the finish prolonged, gently blending acidity with supple, sweet tannins. This is a glass that showcases these majestically structured red wines in all their complexity and finesse.

#4 Port and Sherry Wine Glasses:

Port and Sherry Wine Glasses are designed to help you smell the nuanced aromas that can sometimes be masked by the pungency of high alcoholic content – an effect that the small, slender shape of the glass succeeds in avoiding.

We recommend the Riedel Vinum Port Glasses Port Glass: This glass helps to bring out the classic aromas of vintage port: blackcurrant, pepper, truffles and smoky notes. For the Sherry Glass, we recommend the Riedel Sommeliers Leaded Crystal Tequila & Sherry Glass: it’s a classic.

Does the Glass Really Matter?

If you’re wondering whether the type of glass actually makes a difference, try this experiment with a ten-dollar bottle of red wine at home:

Experiment:

Pour some into any old goblet and some into a proper tulip-shaped crystal Bordeaux glass. Taste.

I guarantee you’ll think you’re drinking two different wines.

The glass you choose has a tremendous impact on your enjoyment of wine. Even unremarkable wines taste more elegant and refined when served in suitable stemware. And the finest wines are all but wasted if you drink them out of coffee mugs. The acquisition of excellent stemware is the first step towards improving your in-home wine experience.

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