5 Tips for Purchasing Wine Glasses


Let’s paint the picture… You just moved into your new place, and you are ready to invest in a good set of wine glasses. You arrive at the store with excitement and anticipation, and as you approach the wine glass section, you find yourself staring at shelf upon shelf of options. So how do you choose? Selecting glassware can be as intimidating as selecting a bottle of wine. There are a lot of glassware options including stem, material and style. Let’s look into the reasoning behind the selections and give you some information to narrow down the options.

1. Stem or Stemless 

This is a big trend for wine glasses. Stemless glasses look sleek and modern, plus they don’t tip over as easily, which is a bonus, but there is actually a purpose for the stem. The stem provides a handle for the glass. Your hands can let off enough heat to warm up the wine if you hold the wine glass by the bowl. If you use your wine glasses primarily at the dinner table, this may not be a big deal. However, if you host cocktail parties, holding a stemless glass can warm up your wine too quickly. Temperature variation may not be noticeable for a big red wine served at room temperature, but a crisp white wine served chilled will taste very different when it becomes warm.

2. Material

Wine glasses can come in glass or crystal, and there is a price different between them. Most wine enthusiasts consider the rim of the glass to be the most important feature – the thinner the better. Both glass and crystal are capable of making thin wine glasses. Glass is generally less expensive and fairly durable. It’s easy to clean, either by hand or in the dishwasher. Crystal is more expensive and more fragile. It’s porous and must be gently hand-washed with cool water and fragrance-free soap.

3. Styles

There are a variety of different wine glass styles, each presumably designed to highlight a specific varietal or wine style. Most wine glasses have the teardrop shape in common. This shape helps concentrate the aromas in the center of the glass and causes alcohol vapors to cling to the sides. Higher alcohol red wines with bold aromas usually taste better served in larger, wider glasses, while crisp white wines with delicate aromas and lower alcohol usually taste better in smaller, narrower glasses.  

4. Champagne Flutes or Coupes

A coupe is a wide and relatively flat traditional Champagne glass shape. They have the advantage of a large surface area to enjoy Champagne aromas, but have the disadvantage of being easy to spill. Champagne flutes are tall and slender. They have the advantage of showcasing the stream of bubbles, but the disadvantages of being very difficult to fill and limiting the aromas. Most somms these days recommend a standard white wine glass for sparkling wine. Standard white wine glasses have the advantage of a larger surface area and are easier to fill; plus, it’s one less piece of glassware to buy.

5. Price Point

The price of wine glasses can range from under $6 to over $60 a glass. The right price for you depends on what you like to drink, how you like to entertain, if you don’t mind hand-washing and how much you are willing to spend. If you can only afford one wine glass, look for a medium-sized wine glass with a thin rim – it works well for just about any wine.

Kristen Flemington