Understanding Red Wine Glass Types and Shapes

The glass appearance impacts the full wine experience

Red wine poured in cup
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Red wine is a delicacy made from dark-colored grapes, consumed all around the world. Many drink popular red wines like Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot for health reasons, food pairings, and special occasions. Many drinkers don't think of the glasses served with the fruity beverage, but the shape of the glass helps greatly when it comes to aroma and flavor. Red wine glasses can range from a minimum of eight ounces to well over 22 ounces. However, the standard red wine pour is five ounces, no matter what the size of the glass is. For comparison, a standard white wine glass holds between 8 to 12 ounces, but a standard pour of white wine would only be 5 ounces in the glass. The rest of the headspace in the glass is there to maximize the air contact with the wine.

The Shapes of Red Wine Glasses

As you shop for wine glasses, you will quickly discover that there are many to choose from. For instance, there are glasses specifically designed for red or white wines. While they may look similar, and you can certainly pour a white into a red glass, there are important reasons behind each design.

Red wine glasses tend to have more of a globe-shaped bowl. They are also larger and taller than white wine glasses. This is because red wines are often bold, and the rounded shape traps the aromas and flavors in the glass. For example, the extra space of a 22-ounce red wine glass allows you to enjoy the full wine experience, even though it's customary to retain the 5-ounce pour. 

White wines are often more delicate, so the glassware is often open-rimmed and smaller.

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Specialty Red Wine Glasses

While it may seem outlandish to get a different type of wine glass for each kind of wine, fine wine requires a certain shape in order to consume its full aromatic and flavor profile. You'll want to consider all parts of a wine glass from top to bottom, including the rim, bowl, stem, and foot.

Luckily, there are special designer glasses available for the top red wines. Although each glass looks similar to the standard red wine glass, subtle differences enhance certain wines. For instance, if you enjoy exploring Pinot Noir, you will find that the rounded and almost full-globe glasses are best. On the other hand, a Bourdeaux offers the greatest experience in a taller and thinner bowl.

Consider Going Stemless

Stemless wine glasses are neat and novel, but they are not as popular for a few very good reasons. First, the stem on glassware serves a purpose. When drinking a glass of wine, the stem is where you should hold onto the glass. The primary reason is that the heat from your hands can warm up the drink. Even red wines are best served at a cool room temperature, and you will find that a small fluctuation can throw off the wine's balance.

If you enjoy exploring a variety of wines, you will find that stemware is the most universal. They're also easier to store if you use a hanging rack.