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Types of Wine Glasses

Wine glasses are almost as diverse as the drinks they hold. But that doesn’t mean things need to get complicated when you and your loved ones are sitting down to sip on your favorite reds, whites and other drinks. Keep the sipping simple with this guide to types of wine glasses from us at Pottery Barn. We’ll help you learn about the primary types and what they’re used for so you can build a glassware collection that best suits your needs.

Wine Glass Basics

There are four main types of wine glasses. These are designed for white, red, sparkling and dessert wines. Within those four categories are wine glasses made for even more specific types of wine and varietals. Softer red wines, for instance, match with different wine glasses than stronger reds. So, a glass isn’t just a glass when it comes to drinking wine. The glasses are designed differently to help various wines taste exactly how the vintners intended them to taste. Wine glasses have several parts, and familiarizing yourself with these can help you see how the different glass styles are designed to enhance each wine’s flavor.

  • The foot of the wine glass is the base it rests on. This component keeps the glass from tipping over and can add some extra style to the design.
  • The stem is the long section attached to the foot. You use it to hold the wine glass so your hand doesn’t heat the beverage and change the flavor.
  • The bowl is the part of the glass that holds the wine. The way a bowl is shaped can help the wine aerate, which allows the full flavors in it to bloom. Usually, bowls taper toward their rims to help a wine’s aroma stay concentrated.

Wine glass bowls are shaped differently depending on the wine you use them with. Red glasses have larger bowls that are full and round. White wine glasses, on the other hand, have narrower, straighter bowls that help them keep the wine cooler. Sparkling wine glasses are even narrower and taller than white wine glasses to retain the carbonation in the beverage. And, dessert wine glasses are small with shorter stems because dessert wines are typically served in smaller quantities.

Building Your Collection

When you’re starting a wine glass collection, get a set of red wine glasses and a set of white wine glasses. Even if you don’t drink one or the other, it’s a good idea to have them on hand for family members and guests. Purchasing a glassware collection that comes with several of each glass type is an easy way to get started, too. Collections often include sets for specific wines, such as reds, whites or both. When deciding on a collection, consider the wines you drink most. For full-bodied red and white wines, look for a set that has cabernet or bordeaux glasses for the reds. You’ll also want chardonnay or viognier glasses for the whites. For lighter reds and whites, choose pinot noir or burgundy glasses and sauvignon blanc or riesling glasses for the reds and whites, respectively.

If you love to enjoy wine with most meals, a set of everyday glasses is ideal. These glasses aren’t designed to highlight features of specific wines. Instead, they work with all varieties. This type of set is also helpful if you don’t usually have specific wine you like to drink. Everyday glasses make good choices for parties and gatherings where guests might prefer different types of wines. Look for an everyday set made of acrylic. It’s easy to wash and extra-durable for outdoor gatherings. Choose traditional wine glasses or stemless wine glasses, which reduce the risk of spills. Alternatively, have fun mixing and matching the two styles for visual contrast.

Building the Bar

When you’re putting together a collection of wine glasses, it’s helpful to have some additional accessories on hand to make it even easier to enjoy different wines. Wine storage racks and other accessories can ensure wine stays in the right condition. Wine coolers are particularly handy for keeping your drinks at the right temperature, as are wine bottle coasters, which keep bottles from damaging the surfaces of your tables. You’ll also need a wine opener for uncorking most bottles. A traditional wine bottle opener certainly gets the job done, but a standing wine bottle opener looks quite professional. If your collection expands, you’ll want a place to store and organize the bottles. Wine caddies work nicely for smaller groupings and typically hold about six bottles. Racks hold larger numbers of bottles.

For large events or for wine-based drinks like sangria, look for drink dispensers. A clear design lets guests see the colors of the beautiful wine inside, along with any sliced fruit or other ingredients. Most have an easy-pour spout that prevents spills. Dispensers disassemble effortlessly, making them easy to wash and clean. For a party-ready look, get a matching pair. Fill one with water and one with sangria for a one-stop refreshment stand.

In addition to wine glasses, a bar collection isn’t complete without cocktail and beer glasses. Beer and cocktail glasses open up another category of entertaining. As with wine glasses, beer and mixed drinks taste and look best when poured into drink-specific glasses. Beer glasses, for instance, come in sets designed to highlight the flavors of beer made from certain ingredients, like wheat. For a little bit of everything, get a mixed set that has a variety of glasses for assorted drinks.