It’s hard not to wonder why it matters and what the purpose is for all the different shapes and sizes of wine glasses but there is a reason that makes sense. Let me explain.

Size – and shape – do matter…

Each different shape and sized wine glass is used for a specific type of wine that is designed to enhance the wines unique flavors and characteristics. Using the right kind of wine glass will actually change the way the wine tastes, making it better or worse.

Why are there so many different sized wine glasses?

The Types of Wine Glasses for Red Wine

Red wines have more tannins so they need to be exposed to air so the wine will open, releasing its flavors and aromas. The larger glass allows the air to come into contact with a larger portion of the surface area of the wine, especially when you swirl.

There are a variety of different types of red wine glasses. You can find glasses dedicated specially to Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, etc. If you want to go this deep, look into the Riedel collections. They’re easy to understand, affordable and good quality wine glasses. If you want to keep it simple, just remember you need to have a larger glass to allow for the air to reach more of the wines surface.

Best Wine Glasses for Red Wine

The Types of Wine Glasses for White Wine

White wines and rose wines are best served in medium size glasses. They don’t need to open like red wines do so you want to keep the fresh fruit characteristics closer together and directed towards the top of the glass so when you sip you’re sipping in the aromas as well.

Best Wine Glasses for White Wine

The Types of Wine Glasses for Sparkling Wines

Sparkling wines might be the most important wine to serve in its specified glass – a tall, thin flute glass. The reason being is the shape of the flute impacts the bubbles and the aroma. Having the more condensed glass allows the bubbles to “live longer”  when you’re sipping. If sparkling wine is served in a larger glass the bubbles burst too soon since they have a larger surface area to travel to. There’s another school of thought that suggests serving sparkling wines in a larger wine glass is actually better than a flute because it helps the sparkling wine to open its aromas more. This is true but the bubbles are definitely lost. I find the sparkling wine goes flat this way. I personally prefer the flute over the larger glass. But try it, see which way you prefer.

Best Wine Glasses for Sparkling Wines

The Types of Wine Glasses for Fortified Wines

Fortified wine’s like Port wine, Brandy or Sherry are best served in small glasses, aka dessert wine glasses. These wines are high alcohol so the small glass helps to emphasize the fruit in the wine rather than alcohol. I find it’s also a good way to manage the amount of alcohol you’re sipping. Take tiny sips, my friend, tiny sips.

Best Wine Glasses for Fortified Wines

Sipping in the Best

Ok, so we’ve talked about the different sizes and shapes of wine glasses but I also want to point out the importance of sipping from clean glasses. I’m not trying to be a clean freak here but having a clean glass does matter as it can dramatically change the taste of the wine or diminish its quality.

Sometimes when you’re in a tasting room you’ll see someone add a splash of wine in the glass and swirl, then dump the wine. This is done to clean the glass of any residue – soap, water minerals, etc.

Do not pour water into your wine glass to clean it in between tastings.

If you want to pour water into your wine glass and drink the water – do it! But, then add a little splash of wine to clean your glass before the next pour. By using the wine to clean the glass it ensures no water residue or soap from the dishwasher is left on the glass. Those little imperfections change the way the wine tastes and for sparkling wines specifically it makes the sparkle fade make faster. Bye, bye bubbles!!!

Where can I learn more about wine?

Did this spark an interest to learn more? Begin by reading our Wine 101 resource section, more about wine history and culture in wine countries around the world — and, sign up for Carpe Travel’s email list. This is the best way to get new info sent right to you!! Cheers!