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How To Pair Your Glassware With Wine

Looking to upgrade the way you serve wine? If you’re spending the time on properly decanting wines for guests at your restaurant, bar, or special occasion, you must serve them using glassware that enhances the flavor and experience of your beverage. 

glass-of-wine
Photo by Freepik

When it comes to wine glasses, there is a multitude of sizes and styles to choose from. This can be overwhelming at first glance if you aren’t aware of their differentiating features. However, serving wine with its appropriate glasses can greatly improve your drinking experience. Below is an informative guide on how to pair your glassware with wine.


Different Types Of Wine

Typically, wine is separated into 3 different categories:

◉ Red: If you’re pouring full-bodied red wines, opt for a large, rounded glass that allows your wine to breathe and fully release its decadent aromas.

◉ White: When serving crisp, airy glasses of white wine, choose a slimmer, U-shaped glass to help maintain its temperature.

◉ Dessert: To provide guests with an after-dinner beverage, serve dessert wines in short glasses with small rims, for a petite-sized serving of wine.

Although this is a general rule of thumb to follow for each category, there are several variations of red, white, and dessert wines that can be paired with a specific kind of glass. Properly pairing glassware with wine creates a unique drinking experience for guests that enhances the taste and smell of wine for an unforgettable sip.


Glasses For Red Wines

Red wine glasses are specially designed to bring out the full-bodied flavor profiles of red wine. Compared to other wines, red wine tends to be a bit heavier in taste and profile. Because red wine glasses often feature tall stems, guests can neatly swirl wines to reveal their unique scents and flavors.

CABERNET

Cabernet glasses are taller than the average glass of wine but are ideal for enhancing the smell of red wine. These wine glasses have a narrow opening that expands into a wide bowl, which allows the wine to properly breathe or aerate. Be sure to not overpour beverages in cabernet glasses, as their shape makes it easy to quickly fill up.

BURGUNDY

Burgundy wine glasses are designed with an extremely large bowl and tall stem to help achieve the full flavor profile of your wine. Compared to typical wine glasses, burgundy glasses can usually accommodate a couple more ounces of your guest’s desired beverage. Burgundy glasses are designed with a thin lip for comfortable sipping, while the long stems are ideal for swirling around wines to develop their aromas.

BORDEAUX

Out of all the red wine glasses, Bordeaux glasses are designed with the tallest stems. Bordeaux glasses have an elongated shape and a small bowl, making them perfect for tasting all the unique flavors of your full-bodied red wines. Since the overall shape of these wine glasses is so tall, it’s ideal for an easy sipping experience. The thin rim of Bordeaux glasses is perfect for enhancing the aromas of wine as guests enjoy their beverages.

PINOT NOIR

Pinot noir glasses are expertly crafted to show off your wines. These kinds of glasses have the widest bowl out of all the red wine glasses, so it’s important to not overpour as you serve guests, in order to maintain a balance to your beverage. The wide bowl and short stem of pinot noir glasses are ideal for displaying wines as they breathe and develop their flavor profile outside of the bottle. The short stem of these glasses offers stability while swirling wines. If you’re looking to fully enhance the intense flavors of medium to heavy wines, opt for a pinot noir glass.


Glasses For White Wines

In comparison to red wine glasses, white wine glasses do not need a wide base to fully achieve their aromas and enhance their flavors. White wines are known to be lighter than red wines, although this isn’t necessarily true for all kinds of white wines. Ideal for serving chilled beverages, white wine glasses help keep their cool temperature as guests enjoy their drinks.

CHARDONNAY

Chardonnay glasses are known for having a ‘U shape’ that specifically enhances the experience of white wines, by allowing the wine to open up and bring out different aromas and top notes. These glasses have an upright look to them and feature a large opening for comfortable and easy sipping. Chardonnay glasses aren’t narrow and are fairly wide all the way around to intensify the aroma and crispness of your chilled wines. To maintain the perfect temperature as guests sip, the stems of chardonnay glasses aren’t very long to provide a comfortable hold on glasses.

VIOGNIER

Viognier glasses have a smaller bowl and a wider, open rim. Perfect for bringing out the fruity, tart layers of white wine, the shape of viognier glasses helps keep oxygen out of glasses to preserve the original flavor profile of the wine. The stem of viognier glasses makes it easy for guests to swirl their beverages in between sips. To avoid messes while serving or enjoying wines, viognier glasses have much wider bases than typical white wine glasses to provide stability.

VINTAGE

More for beautifully presenting drinks than actually enhancing flavors, vintage glasses are the perfect way to serve wine cocktails or white wines. Vintage glasses have a short, yet extremely wide bowl and rim which is then stacked onto a tall stem and wide base. The stunning look of vintage glasses provides a visual enhancement to your wines, but the exposed bowl allows an excess amount of airflow, which might kill the flavor profile of your wine. Serve younger or lighter wines such as pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc.

RIESLING

Riesling glasses are perfect for maintaining the temperature of chilled white wines. Built with a narrow bowl and a narrow opening, riesling glasses help bring out the crisp notes of fruity wines while also expanding the aroma of wines as guests sip. The long stem of riesling glasses is ideal for swirling wines without distributing the balance of the glass. Riesling glasses have a thin rim that helps keep the temperature of wines cool while providing a comfortable way to enjoy wines.


Glasses For Dessert Wines

Dessert wines are typically served in petite-sized glasses for a miniature serving of wine. Great for after-dinner beverages, dessert wine glasses are the ideal vessel for a smaller serving of wine, while still enhancing its flavors and bringing out their uniquely sweet aromas for an enjoyable drinking experience.

SHERRY

Almost like the miniature version of a Bordeaux glass, sherry glasses are the ideal choice for serving dessert wines. The small bowl of these glasses is still elongated, to properly intensify the aroma of dessert wines. In comparison to its bowl, the stems of sherry glasses aree still designed to be fairly tall, so guests can easily sip their beverages. The thick rim of sherry glasses helps protect the aged components of older dessert wines.

PORT

Port wine glasses have a similar shape to sherry glasses but are designed to be much thinner and smaller. The bowl of port glasses has a long yet rounded shape to them that helps expand and enhance the flavor of dessert wines. Port wine glasses commonly hold around 6 ounces of wine, so be sure to not overpour these glasses as you serve your guests. Because of its overall shape, port glasses allow you to really enjoy the aroma of dessert wines, which will leave your guests satisfied.

SWEET WINE

Sweet wine glasses are known as the standard glass for dessert wines. Sweet wine glasses are short in their overall length but feature a longer stem. The narrow design of the bowl for sweet wine glasses is perfect for serving dessert wines with ultra-sweet flavor profiles, as it keeps oxygen out to fully trap and expand the smell and sweetness of your wine. Sweet wine glasses have a tapered rim that can be used to quickly swirl beverages without having to use the stem and maintain its balance.

MADEIRA

Madeira wine glasses have a unique shape to them that perfectly compliments your dessert wines or after-dinner drinks. Like other dessert wine glasses, Madeira glasses are small in size but have taller stems to provide guests with a comfortable way to hold or sip on wine. Madeira glasses have a wide bowl with a narrow opening and a curved shape to them. This creates the perfect combination of letting dessert wines aerate without being exposed to too much oxygen, which would damage the flavor profile of the wine, especially if it’s aged.


Different Kinds Of Materials For Wine Glasses

The material in which your wine glass is made of matters. While the actual construction and shape help elevate the smell and flavor of wines, the material of wine glasses can also enhance your red, white, or dessert wines. To achieve a perfect drinking experience, choose wine glasses made from a specific material that best complements your wine. Wine glasses are typically made from:

◉ Crystal

◉ Acrylic

◉ Machine-made glass

◉ Hand-blown glass

CRYSTAL

Crystal wine glasses have a high-quality look and feel to them. Crystal is lightweight yet extremely durable, to provide balance while enjoying wine. The look of crystal is naturally very reflective and easily refracts light to perfectly show off the rich colors of your drinks. Crystal glasses are ideal for formal events and special occasions, given their luxurious appearance. These kinds of glasses are perfect for serving all kinds of wine, but pair especially well with white wines as they can help maintain cool temperatures.

ACRYLIC

Acrylic wine glasses are the perfect glasses for casual events or large gatherings. Acrylic glasses are extremely durable, and break-resistant to withstand drops or high impacts on tabletops. These kinds of wine glasses tend to be the most affordable, and are ideal for serving large crowds. Acrylic wine glasses are made in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and are a great replacement for higher-end wine glasses, as they still achieve the same look and quality. Acrylic wine glasses can be used for red, white, or dessert wines alike.

MACHINE-MADE

Great for impressing guests without breaking the bank, machine-made wine glasses are a modern and great option for serving wine at restaurants, hotels, or bars. Machine-made glasses are convenient because they have the same look as hand-blown glassware without the labor-intensive manufacturing process. These kinds of glasses produce thinner rims and lightweight bowls and are perfect for serving red or white wines. Machine-made glasses are dishwasher-safe, which is great for streamlining the cleanup process after serving guests.

HAND-BLOWN

Out of all the different materials for wine glasses, hand-blown glasses are the most unique and can achieve a one-of-a-kind look for serving wine. Hand-blown wine glasses can be expensive compared to other options, due to the labor-intensive process of individually crafting each glass. Hand-blown glasses are made in a variety of sizes and shapes, which makes them ideal for serving red, white, or dessert wines. These kinds of glasses offer crystal-clear transparency to show off wines, but some hand-blown glasses are made using different colors to add vibrancy to beverage displays. If you’re looking for a showstopping way to serve wines at your bar or catering events, hand-blown glasses are a great investment.


Why The Right Glassware Matters

Choosing the perfect glass for your wine allows for the aromas and flavor profiles of the wine to fully concentrate and expand. The art of pairing wine with glassware begins with the kind of wine you are serving your guests. Whether you’re serving red or white wines at dinner or accompanying sweets with dessert wines, there are several glassware options available.

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