7 Types of Wine Glasses Every Wino Should Know About
Put down that mason jar, friends—it’s time to show your vino some respect by serving it in a proper glass. But what does that mean exactly? Well, it depends on what you’re drinking. Fortunately, we got Adrian Murcia, wine educator and sommelier at Les Trois Chevaux, to give us a crash course on the different types of wine glasses—you know, so you can up your adulting game and improve your wine tasting experience in one fell swoop.
The anatomy of a wine glass
Before we dive into the specific types of glasses, let’s take a look at the basic anatomy of the wine glass. (Don’t worry, it’s not too complicated.)
Bowl: The bowl of a wine glass is the portion that holds the vino. It can be wide, narrow, tall, short, cylindrical, tapered or even flared.
Stem: The stem of the wine glass is the part that connects the base and the bowl; it’s also the part you hold, and it can be thin or thick, short or long.
Base: The base is the bottommost part of the wine glass upon which it stands. (Duh.)
Rim: The rim of a wine glass refers to the lip of the bowl (and the place where you put yours). In general, the nicer the glass, the thinner the rim.
Types of wine glasses
Now that you know the basics, let’s get into the nitty-gritty with a breakdown of the various types of wine glasses and how they’re used.
1. All-purpose glass
As the name suggests, the all-purpose, or universal glass (sometimes also referred to as a riesling glass) can be used to taste pretty much anything, be it red, white or sparkling. This glass has a relatively short, cylindrical bowl and a small to medium size stem—a shape that allows for adequate swirling and effectively directs aromas to the nose. (Hint: Those are the two most important qualities in a wine glass.) If you’re looking to stock your home bar with just one type of wine glass, this compact and versatile style is an obvious choice.
The flute is a festive and oh-so classy-looking glass with a very slender shape that’s specifically designed for Champagne and sparkling wine. Per Murcia, “The main advantage of flutes is that their narrow shape exposes very little surface area of the wine to oxygen and thus helps maintain the carbon dioxide, so you can better see and taste the bubbles.” That said, the expert tells us that flutes have practically become obsolete, even gauche, in the industry—namely because the narrow shape makes it difficult to swirl (i.e. aerate) the sparkling wine before you start sipping. When it comes to Champagne and sparkling wine, small, terroir-driven producers are valued more at the moment, which means it’s particularly important to enjoy the wine in a glass that allows for a full expression of its unique character. As such, Murcia says that all-purpose glasses are now the preference, even for Champagne, as they “allow more space to swirl and thus communicate the aromas better.”
3. Burgundy glass
The Burgundy glass is a red wine glass that boasts a particularly wide bowl and slightly tapered rim, which work together to expose more surface area of the wine to oxygen and enhance the nuanced aromas and flavors of the wine. According to the sommelier, this type of glass is preferred for its namesake wine because reds from the Burgundy region of France tend to be a little more restrained and delicate than, say, Bordeaux wine, and thus benefit from a glass that coaxes and encourages their full expression with maximum aeration.
4. Bordeaux glass
The Bordeaux glass is essentially a bigger, taller version of the all-purpose glass. These larger dimensions provide more space for, you guessed it, swirling and sniffing big, full-bodied wines like the highly aromatic stuff from the Bordeaux region of France.
5. Stemless wine glass
Stemless wine glasses are typically shaped like all-purpose glasses…but without the stem. These guys are a practical choice for casual drinking and a favorite among clumsy folk who have a habit of knocking over and breaking stemmed glasses. (Guilty as charged.) The sommelier, however, is not a huge fan: “From a hospitality standpoint the stem on a glass serves an important aesthetic purpose; it’s there so you can enjoy a fine wine without the eyesore of fingerprints on the bowl of the glass.” In other words, if you’re taking wine seriously and value the full sensory experience, it’s best to sip from a glass with a stem.
Copita means “little glass” in Spanish—and that’s exactly what this one is. Indeed, the copita is basically a stunted version of the all-purpose glass with a tulip-shaped bowl that’s proportionally larger relative to its short stem. It’s also the go-to glass for serving fortified wines like sherry and port, as well as aperitifs and spirits.
The coupe, a shallow, saucer-like glass, was the fashionable choice for serving Champagne and sparkling wine in the first half of the 20th century. Despite having fallen out of favor as a wine glass, the coupe has made a comeback as a cocktail glass (and we’re all for it).