3 Tips For Choosing Wine Glasses 🍷

Three shapes of wine glasses. How to choose wine glasses to best experience wines, and the only wine glasses you need. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

During our recent wine tasting expeditions both in Burgundy and Northern California, we noticed an interesting and almost universal shift. At most wineries, and in many restaurants, the standard rounded wine glass has been replaced by variations of the shapes above. (Even Champagnes and sparkling wines were served in this shape of glass.)

According those we asked, this shape allows for better “expression” of the wine. And during a recent tasting in Napa, we experienced how the same wine will express itself differently depending on the shape of the glass. Above, we were blind served the same Sauvignon Blanc in each of the three glasses shown. We were then asked to taste each, starting from the glass on the right and see if we could correctly guess what each was. It was astounding how different the same wine tasted depending on the shape of the wineglass. The more open the glass, the less acidic and more “rounded” the wine became.

Another interesting tidbit I learned during that tasting: chilled wines will actually hold their chill longer in vessels with thinner glass. I would have thought it was the other way around. But apparently thicker glass will “absorb” the temperature differential between beverage and air, and your Champers will go warm faster. (This is also true for beer.)

How To Choose Wine Glasses

I’ve been meaning to replace our wine glasses, as many of our original set have broken over the years. So especially with the holidays coming up, I’ve been doing a little research. Here are a few things I’ve learned to look for:

  1. The glass should be vertical (taller than wider) and bowl of the glass should be wider than the rim. This allows for better air contact and release of aromas (the “nose”) while helping to concentrate them.
  2. The clearest and lightest weight glass or crystal will allow the most unimpeded experience of the wine. Also, look for glasses without a prominent lip.
  3. You do not need to have a specific glass shape for each varietal. A “universal” wine glass (one size for white or sparkling, one for red) is all that most of us need.

So what “universal” glasses to choose? It depends on your budget, and how sturdy you need your glassware to be. (I can almost just look at some glasses wrong and they break. 😆)

Zalto Denk'Art Universal Wine Glass. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

One of the most often-recommended glasses is this one. It gets rave reviews but at almost $70 per glass is more than I’m willing to spend. (Though it is dishwasher-safe, a real plus!)

A more budget-friendly style that’s also well reviewed is the Schott Zweisel (for white and red wines). I was about to buy a couple of those to try, but then the Sales Associate suggested…

Iittala red and white wine glasses. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

…these from a Finnish brand called IITTALA. (White / Red) They felt a little better balanced, and I liked the sturdier stem. So I brought home two of each size to test drive.

Want to help your party guests keep track of their wine glasses? Set out a few of these wine writers at your beverage station. They work like a charm, and wash right off.

Wine & Cheese, Please…

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8 Comments

  1. Anne
    November 7, 2019 / 6:16 am

    I, too, do lots of wine-related travel and follow the current trends in glassware. I love Zalto stems and have been all about them since first using them a couple of years ago in Piedmont. But I am in the Rhône Valley now and will let you in on the latest and greatest (or at least to me): Mark Thomas. https://www.kneenandco.com/product/mark-thomas-double-bend-glassware/
    They have the lightness of Zalto and a wine enhancing bowl. Sommeliers.seek them out. For budget stemware I like Chef & Sommelier or the Schott Zweisel. Cheers!

  2. Carol Montanti
    November 7, 2019 / 8:52 am

    I had a very funny experience with wine glasses a few Christmases ago, using a new set of 8 tall wine glasses that I had just bought at Home Sense. The table looked beautiful! All was great until one of my sons started to fill the wine glasses, which proceeded to topple over once they had wine in them!! I guess it was a poor design with a Center of gravity in the wrong spot. We had a good laugh, after we cleaned up and started over, and still chuckle about the toppling wine glasses which of course went out the door!

  3. Sarah
    November 7, 2019 / 10:28 am

    I’ve got a nice collection of matching vintage 70s wine glasses that I’ve collected slowly over the years from various thrift stores. It’s a good way to go if you’re trying to save some money!

  4. November 7, 2019 / 11:32 am

    I have been an advocate of appropriate glassware since taking several “Glass Matters” classes for wine and beer. The shape and thickness of the glass makes a tremendous difference in the flavor. Most wineries in the Pacific Northwest that I’ve visited now use finer glassware. Riedel brand glassware is used at quite a few of them. While Riedel can be very expensive, they also manufacture much more affordable glasses that I’ve seen at Costco, Bed, Bath & Beyond, other department stores and specialty stores.
    I’m glad you mentioned temperature retention. People think I’m crazy because I like my tea and coffee in a china mug as apposed to a thick ceramic mug. The tea especially tastes different to me and coffee cools off so quickly in those thick mugs, even when I fill them with hot water first.

  5. Peggy
    November 8, 2019 / 8:07 am

    We are wine lovers and have tried many different wine glasses over the decades and realized that it all comes down to how a glass feels in our hand, and for every person that will be different. We’ve found the best wine glasses at Crate & Barrel.

  6. Cinzia
    November 8, 2019 / 10:19 am

    Ever since a visit to Helsinki about 15 years ago introduced me to it, I have loved iittala glassware. I particularly like the wineglasses you pictured but also use their everyday glassware (tumblers) and have to say that I have found them to be extremely sturdy (and a pleasure to look at).

  7. MJ
    November 8, 2019 / 11:21 am

    I bought some of the Zalto glasses a few years ago after reading a New York Times recommendation, and I adore them. They are so thin and feel so delicate that at first I was afraid to use them. But I decided that I was too old to save them for special occasions since I enjoy them so much, and now I use them all the time. One arrived with a shattered stem and was replaced for free, but other than that I have had no breakage. I wash them in the dishwasher. I notice, however, that the New York Times now recommends the similar but less expensive and somewhat sturdier-feeling Gabriel-Glas StandArt

  8. Tina
    November 8, 2019 / 10:01 pm

    Yes, Iittala all the way!
    I too have these glasses and absolutely love them.

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