It is relatively common knowledge that the shape of your glass has a direct impact on how your wine tastes, but the same science is also applicable to liquor, cordials, and beer as well. Choosing the right glassware is as much of an art as it is a science, and can be a ton of fun if you know what you are looking for. Do some research first on your beverage of choice, its dominant characteristics, and then read below for tips on which glassware will bring out those primary notes in the most optimal ways.
Types of Wine Glasses
The world of wine glasses can be dizzying. Bordeaux? Burgundy? Stemmed or stemless? Before you choose the perfect glass for that special bottle, it is helpful to know some basic guidelines. First, you should know that a wine glass consists of a bowl, a stem, and the foot.
In general, red wine glasses have larger bowls to help enhance the aromas that collect at the surface of the wine, and white wine glasses have more narrow bowls to help maintain temperature. From there, small nuances in width, shape, and length help highlight or encourage attributes like oxidation or carbonation. You may also take your environment into consideration. For example, if you are planning an outdoor dinner party, stemless tumblers may be more ideal that a long-stemmed glass that is more likely to get knocked over. Wine Enthusiast offers a multitude of glasses sure to meet any wine drinker’s needs, no matter which bottle is being uncorked.
Red Wine Glasses
Red wine glasses need a wide bowl to help with the inhalation of volatile compounds and to allow oxidation to occur, bringing forth even more complexity over time. This oxidation is why decanting red wine is important, or allowing it to “breathe.” The wide bowl also allows you to swirl your wine effectively.Tall, broad-bowled glasses like Bordeaux glasses are designed for the boldest and fullest wines – think Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah – and help some of that ethanol to escape so aromas can surface. The even-broader Burgundy glass is your best bet for delicate flavors, like those from Pinot Noir, as the wide bowl helps concentrate those pleasantly-smelling compounds at the nose. Your “standard” red wine glass is the top choice for spicier, medium-bodied wines like Zinfandels and Malbecs. When it comes to stemmed versus tumbler, go with a stemmed option for finer, higher-quality wines, and use tumblers in more casual situations. Tumblers can transfer more heat from your hand to the wine, so you’ll want to avoid this with a fine wine that is best showcased at its optimal temperature.
Wine Enthusiast has a perfectly matched glassware option for any occasion, but you can count on being prepared for any occasion with the Zalto Denk’Art Three-Pack Wine Glass Set. Ths 3-piece set includes a Universal, Burgundy, and Bordeaux wine glass, so you’ll be equipped to properly enjoy any bottle in your collection. These luxe glasses are mouth-blown, lead-free and dishwasher-safe. The Universal glass is recommended for full-bodied to powerful wines, which are expressive but also show minerality and smooth character. Burgundy glass is recommended for powerful and expressive wines above 13% alcohol. The shape of the bowl integrates the components of the wine, bringing to the foreground the fruit and sweeter notes. This glass is especially suited for Pinot Noirs and Barberas. The Bordeaux glass is recommended for wines full of character and high in tannins.
No matter which red wine varietal is your favorite, Wine Enthusiast has myriad, well-matched options to choose from that will heighten your tasting experience.
White Wine Glasses
White wine glasses vary more in shape and size than their red wine counterparts. Some white wines, like oaky Chardonnays, benefit from some oxidation in order to highlight their buttery aromas, whereas more delicate white grape varietals, like Sauvignon Blanc’s, retain their crispness by being protected from oxidation. A standard white wine glass used for Chardonnay or Viognier will have a wider bowl, though narrower than a red wine glass. This helps preserve a colder temp while still allowing aromas to concentrate at the rim. A white Burgundy glass is similar; the bowl is wide, but not so wide as a red Burgundy. Just like many red wines, many white wines can also be properly enjoyed from a Universal shaped glass, the veritable workhorse for any wine taster’s collection.
White wine often evokes summer-y images: warm weather, sunshine, poolside relaxation, or maybe even a boat calmly bobbing in a sapphire sea.
Wine Enthusiast has the perfect Chardonnay glass set for any outdoor occasion. This set of 4 indoor/outdoor Chardonnay glasses are stemmed to keep your wine cool, but are made from shatter-resistant Eastman Tritan™ copolyester (BPA-free/FDA-approved) that won’t crack or break, so you can sip carefree, anywhere. The shape is perfect for oaked, buttery Chardonnays, with a wide enough bowl to concentrate aromas but not so wide as to promote over-oxidation. These are a must for the discerning imbiber looking to enjoy their favorite white wine labels in the spring and summer sunshine.
Sparkling wines are often served in the iconic flute, which we all know from wedding Champagne toasts and Instagrammed brunch mimosas. The high, narrow glass keeps the sparkling wines chilled and maintains that delightful effervescence from carbonation. However, if you’re looking to enjoy the aromas of a Prosecco or sparkling Rose, you may be more impressed with a coupe or tulip-shaped Champagne glass, which allows both bubbles and aromas to shine.
If you want a glass that is as suited to Champagne as it is to any sparkling wine, the Zalto Denk’Art Champagne Glass is your go-to. This mouth-blown, lead-free and dishwasher-safe is not only perfectly balanced, it is also beautifully designed. The high, tulip shaped bowl preserves the pleasing bubbles in your Champagne, sparkling wine, Prosecco or Cava, but also allows those lovely floral and mineral aromas to concentrate and gather at the lip for an extraordinary sip.
Port & Dessert Wine Glasses
Port and dessert wine glasses are designed to accentuate the sweet, higher-alcohol content flavors of the beloved after-dinner beverages. Due to the higher sugar and alcohol content, port and dessert wines can easily overwhelm the palate, so they are served in much smaller glasses. The compact shape also helps to concentrate flavors and the richness of aromas.
Port glasses make a wonderful gift, and are a must-have for any well-stocked home bar. These Riedel Vinum Port Glasses from Wine Enthusiast are the ideal choice. The slender bowl and narrow rim work in harmony to highlight the richness and sweetness of port, while preventing an overconcentration of alcoholic aromas. This is the port glass you need to truly appreciate the aroma, complex flavors, and lingering finishes that this varietal has to offer.
Types of Liquor Glasses
Just like the vast world of wine, liquor, beer and liqueurs also has their array of flavors, aromas, complexities, and intricacies that are best showcased in appropriate glassware. We highlight some of the most popular and utilitarian (but stylish) glasses for home barware sure to meet the needs of any tipple, be it casual or sophisticated.
Scotch & Whiskey Glasses
Scotch and whiskey represent the mysterious, suave and maybe even slightly dangerous imbiber. The complexities and intensity of whiskey can be heightened in high-rye blends, or mellowed in more wheat-heavy recipes. The glassware for this iconic liquor is no different in that its basic shape and qualities can be expressed in nuanced ways. The typical whiskey or scotch serving glass is a rocks glass, a heavy tumbler designed to be wide enough for ice and to allow aromas to form, and also to allow heat from your hand to transform the flair profile over time. Other whiskey glasses are stemmed, keeping finer whiskeys from warming and at ideal temperature for enjoyment.
These iconic platinum whiskey glasses are the epitome of modern elegance. Hand blown from crystalline glass, these classy whiskey vessels feature a solid bubble base, adding a level of sophistication, are polished to perfection, and then finished with a platinum band for added luxury. These fine glasses take a classic whiskey shape and gussy it up in a way that is certain to level-up your bourbon, scotch, or whiskey drinking session.
Most whiskey glasses stick to a classic, tried-and-true rocks shape with a heavy bottom, allowing heat to transfer from the drinker’s hand to the spirit and evolving the aromas and taste of the whiskey over time. This set of Zenology whiskey glasses offers a whole new, premium experience for the discerning whiskey drinker eager to open that special bottle. These glasses were designed in conjunction with Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s Spirits Editor, Kara Newman, and are based off of the best-selling wine glasses. These handcrafted crystal glasses are tulip-shaped, but are wide enough to allow for ice cubes and prevent an over-concentration of alcohol fumes. This stemmed glassware prevents the heat transfer from hand-holding, keeping any premium scotch, bourbon or whiskey at the preferred temperature for each and every savored sip. These are the best whiskey glasses for premium bottles, and will become the go-to glassware for any beverage that deserves an extra touch of elegance.
Beer glasses can come in a variety of shapes depending on beer style and region, but the mug and pint glass are among the standout stars for their versatility and utility alike. The pint glass is probably the most popular beer glass shape in the US, and is the most ubiquitous at bars and restaurants. The standard pint glass holds 16 ounces, has a wide mouth, and narrows slightly toward the bottom. These glasses are easy to drink from, easy to clean, and easy to stack, making them the workhorse of beer-drinking vessels. The beer mug is less common, though arguably more fun to drink from. Beer mugs come in a variety of sizes, but almost always hold more liquid than a pint glass. The thick walls and hearty handle keep your beer cold for longer, and make it easy to hold.
Every beer lover will appreciate a custom pint glass, and Wine Enthusiast has the perfect set of four Personalized Shield Pint Glasses. These solid pint glasses can be personalized with an initial and 16 characters engraved in a strong shield design. The thick and heavy glass adds a deserved heft and sturdy feel to any brew drinking experience, and are sure to become your go-to beer vessel.
If the beer mug is more your style, you can enjoy the same quality and customization in the Wine Enthusiast Shield Beer Mugs. Just like the pint glasses, this set comes with 4 beer mugs that can be engraved with an initial and name over a strong shield design, lending even more old-world feel to this timeless beer mug design. The heavyweight is sure to help them last a long time, and allow every beer fanatic to enjoy their favorite brews in classic fashion for years to come.
Cordial & Liqueur
The primary characteristics of cordial glasses is that they are small and stemmed. These dainty yet classy vessels are designed to hold small amounts of your favorite brandy or flavored liquor, and are often seen at the end of large meals. There are many types of cordial glasses, some tulip shaped for concentration flavor, and some with a larger bowl for sniffing aromas.
Perhaps the most iconic of cordials is brandy. Wine Enthusiast has a beautiful Riedel Vinum Brandy Snifter set that comes with two brandy glasses. These elegant cordial glasses are made of fine crystal that truly allows you to appreciate the complex hues and rich texture of your brandy, while the wide bowl enables you to comfortably grip and swirl your glass, warming and further expressing the brandy’s nature. After enjoying brandy from these fine glasses, you may just find that a cordial is what your evening routine has been missing!
Glass shape and size is a science, but choosing the best glasses for your barware collection is also an art. Having the right red wine glass, sparkling wine flute, beer glass or whiskey rocks glass can take your drinking experience to new heights and enable you to fully enjoy every sip of your chosen tipple.