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Orange Coast Winery

Douglas Wiens
February 21, 2018 | Douglas Wiens

Does the Shape of a Wine Glass Really Matter?

Does the shape of a wine glass really matter?

It does if you want to get the best flavor

In a perfect world, whenever we want a glass of wine, we would just go over to our wine rack (or maybe take a trip down to our wine cellar) for a great bottle and then head over to our stemware cabinet for a gleaming wine glass. But in reality, we probably just grab a bottle off the counter and perhaps take a cursory look for a clean wine glass, settling for a coffee mug or anything within arm’s reach.

Wine can be great no matter what you drink it from, but to enjoy it more, you’ll definitely want to sip it from a wine glass. And on top of that, depending on your choice, you’ll want to choose the right type of glass. If you’ve ever wondered why glasses come in so many different shapes, let us explain.

It’s all about the aroma

Most people know that smell plays a huge role in the taste of wine. This is why you’re encouraged to take a nice, long whiff before you drink, as this will help you appreciate its flavor. And this is at the heart of why wine glasses have different shapes.


Red wines have a big, bold flavor, which is why red wine glasses have wide bowls. This allows the aroma to be released. Red wine is usually best at room temperature, which means holding the glass by the bowl is fine. In fact, stemless red wine glasses are gaining in popularity.

Real wine connoisseurs even have different wine glasses for specific types of red wine. For example, glasses for merlot have tapered tops and big bowls so the wine can first be swirled to open up the aroma. Pinot noir glasses are similar, but generally their stems are shorter. Port glasses have smaller bowls in order to keep the powerful smell contained.

Does the Shape of a Wine Glass Really Matter?


While you want a red wine to get a lot of oxygen, the same isn’t as true for white wine. This is why many glasses have a tapered bowl and narrower rim. Because white wine is best when chilled, the glasses should be held by the stem to avoid heating it up.

Just like reds, certain whites have their own distinct glasses. Riesling glasses, for example, are tall and thin so the fruit-filled aroma will stay at the top. Sauvignon blanc glasses are also tall, and they have small bowls so the aroma can be delivered right to the nose.

Does the Shape of a Wine Glass Really Matter?

Sparkling wine

There’s a reason we’re supposed to drink sparkling wine – or champagne – with those incredibly narrow glasses known as flutes. This is so the bubbles will hit your tongue as soon as you take a sip. The thinness of the glasses is also meant to make the carbonation last as long as possible. And let’s not forget the aesthetic appeal of those upward traveling bubbles, showcased nicely in those long bowls.

Does the Shape of a Wine Glass Really Matter?

Dessert wine

To get the best taste from a dessert wine, you’ll want to pick a glass that is tall and tapered. The best dessert wine glass has a bowl designed to highlight its acidity but at the same time balance its sweetness.

Now, we’re not suggesting you go out and buy dozens of new glasses for you and your friends, but if you’ve got a particular favorite wine, it may be worth picking up the perfect kind of glasses to boost your enjoyment. For some more tips about drinking wine – with the added bonus of actually getting to drink wine – we’d love to see you at Orange Coast. We’ll make sure whatever you’re drinking, it comes in the perfect glass.


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