How to Choose Your Perfect Wine Glass

7 wine glasses of various heights and shapes, filled with different coloured wines, lined up against a glowing white wall

Shape and size are personal.

By Erin Henderson

About once a month I’m asked what wine glasses are “the best” for enjoying wine.

And like everything about wine, it’s entirely up to you. A frustratingly ambiguous answer, but hey, welcome to the wonderful world of wine.

Over the years, leading wine glass companies, like Riedel, have demonstrated that the shape of your wine glass will affect your appreciation of the drink. As such, they have created beautifully designed stemware for just about every grape under the sun.

And if you are someone who has the budget, space, desire, and energy to clean a massive collection such as that, then I say fill your boots. And your glasses.

But if you are such a discriminating connoisseur, and I suspect you are, as you've found your way here, this is a guide to getting the best glass for you. 

Short Answer: A Universal Wine Glass is All You Need

2 Bordeaux glasses, one empty, one with red wine, side by side

What is a so-called, “universal wine glass?” Glad you asked.

This somewhat nebulous term (again, welcome to the wonderful world of wine…) just refers to one glass that can work with most wines to maximize your enjoyment – and certainly not take away from it.

This is going to be either a Bordeaux or Riesling styled glass. These styles of stemware are usually the standard offering at most mid-tier restaurants with decent wine programs. This glass shape is more like a U, with a wider bottom and slightly narrower top (as opposed to Burgundy styled glasses, for example, which are nearly circular with an exaggerated wide bottom compared to the rim.)

Bordeaux wine glasses tend to be bigger, which makes them more appropriate for red wines which perform better when a larger amount of air gets into the glass. Riesling glasses, nearly identically shaped, are usually smaller, which benefits the concentrated aromas of the white wine. Depending on whether you drink more red or white, and your personal style, you may want one size over another. I have both because I drink both red and white in equal measure and I have the space to store both sizes.

Which Brand Is Best?

A overview shot of a glass of red wine, with the glass casting a long shadow to the five o'clock position

This is up to you. Riedel, Spiegelau, Schott Zwiesel, Zalto are all leaders in the market with a range of product from durable, entry-level glassware (that in some cases is even dishwasher safe), to very fine, hand-blown crystal that is so light it’s like drinking from air.

I have a few investment glasses that are absolutely stunning, and I hope to have for the rest of my life. Therefore, I never use them. 

I recently purchased a good set of shatter resistant stemware from Fable (this is not a sponsored post), which weren’t cheap, I believe about $135 for a set of four, but they are more durable to the wear and tear of daily life while still offering a sleek aesthetic which I like. I have people over every week, each sitting on a different level of the clumsy-to-graceful spectrum, and after six or so months of use, so far, so good.

Think about your drinking and entertaining needs – if you have a real pinkies-up crowd that can be trusted with your investment pieces, perhaps the high-end stuff is the way to go. If your gang is a bit more… shall we say, accident prone, maybe the durable drinkware is a better choice.

Stem or Stemless, That is the Question

Two glasses with rosé wine clinking together being held by the stem with a male and female hand

You know what I’m going to say, right? Totally up to you.

I know wine pros who love a stemless, and I know others who perish the thought.

Me? I’m a stem kind of girl. Not only does it keep my paws off my wine, and therefore keeps my wine at the desired temperature, but it helps me swirl with grace (and look like a real baller at a party – I can actually swirl a glass in each hand at the same time. You should see what I can do with tassels.)

And last, but definitely not least, by keeping my hands on the stem and not the bowl, the glass stays crystal clean. At a soirée, when my fingertips that have been in the chips n’ dip bowl, and handling the deep-fried, passed hors d’oeuvres, it takes about 15 seconds for my once-sparkling clean glass to become coated in a greasy, grey fog of smudged fingerprints. Not a good look. So, by firmly embracing the stem, my glass stays bright and clear, and I am free to confidentally toast the crowd.

Hear From Real People!

Bravo! You were awesome and I loved the presentation, explanation and selection of wines! I just had to reach out and thank you for a wonderful evening. You two are fabulous – great energy and you really like what you do.  You make tasting wine fun!
The unique programs and the tour we did with you was a huge success. Guests really enjoyed the afternoon!
I had the pleasure of attending the Oceania Cruise event where you conducted a wine pairing. I have to say that your wine and food pairing made a typically ho hum travel information night, spectacular! I have never done a wine pairing. I was amazed at how food interacted with the wines.
Wow, Emily was absolutely fantastic! She was patient, explained the wines well, and was a delight to work with.

Thank you so much for everything I will definitely use your services again.
Our guests had a great evening and Erin made sure that everyone (even non-drinkers) enjoyed themselves! Thanks for making the bridal shower so memorable!
I’m really pleased with how the event went. Everyone feels really happy with your incredible hosting skills and experience. We all DEFINITELY want to use The Wine Sisters again! Thank you so much!!
I wanted to thank you SO much for your tutored wine tasting! It was so much fun. You were both informative and hilarious! Each person said they would definitely recommend you to anyone looking to do a wine tasting!
Everything was perfect and very personalized! We still talk about experience and how nice it was. Definitely memories our family will treasure forever.
Thank you very much for the amazing wine tasting. We all had the most wonderful time. The wines were excellent and your presentation was very entertaining and informative.
Everybody had a ton of fun and we very much see this structure as a template we can use with clients and friends in the future.

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