Red Vs. White Wine Glass - Why Are They Different?
by Jennifer Kristensen on Mar 28, 2023
While you’re probably familiar with the incredible variety of wine glasses available, did you know that different wine glasses are better suited for different kinds of wine? In fact, it’s not just wine etiquette that determines what glass is used — the right wine glass can elevate and increase the flavor of wine, whether you prefer pinot grigio, pinot noir, or cabernet sauvignon.
As a wine enthusiast, understanding what type of wine glass you should use for each kind of wine is one of the most important steps you can take to enjoy wine properly. In this article, we explain everything you need to know about the difference between a red wine glass and a white wine glass and our best tips for taking care of your wine glasses.
Why Are Different Wine Glasses Used for Red and White Wine?
As mentioned before, different wine glasses are used for red and white wine because the right glass elevates the aroma and flavor of the wine. This isn’t just a common myth, either — studies have shown that the shape of the wine glass influences how vapors form inside the glass, affecting whether the wine's aromas and flavors are muted or fully expressed.
As a result, the wine glasses used for red and white wine are quite different. Red wine is typically served in wine glasses with a large and wide bowl so that the wine can aerate and the intense aromas can gather in a much wider expanse of air.
White wine is poured into a smaller glass to ensure the aroma can concentrate. The glasses for white wine also have much longer stems, ensuring that the wine stays cold even when the stem holds the glass.
What Kind of Glasses Are Used for Red Wine?
Red wine glasses allow the wine to breathe and aerate. As a result, a red wine glass has a large and wide bowl and an average stem length. Because the red wine is only poured up to a third of the glass, red wine glasses are optimal for swirling and aerating the wine.
There are several common types of red wine glasses that you’ll encounter. Specifically, there is a red wine glass for full-bodied Bordeaux wines, glasses for medium-bodied red wines, and glasses for light-bodied Burgundy wines.
A Bordeaux glass tends to have the largest bowl with a wide opening. These wine glasses are designed specifically so that the abundant tannins in the full-bodied wine can effectively aerate. As a result, the wine is much smoother to drink and offers more pleasant flavor notes.
Medium-bodied red wine glasses are used for various red wines and serve as general-use red wine glasses. These glasses offer an excellent middle ground and can effectively soften the harsh flavors of the tannins while still allowing the aroma to gather in the glass.
A Burgundy glass is used for light red wines like Pinot Noir pinot noir. This wine glass shape is designed to aerate the wine minimally. As a result, the aroma can effectively gather without the glass excessively softening the wine. Burgundy glasses are generally used for light red wine but are also ideal for delicate aged red wines.
What Kind of Glasses Are Used for White Wine?
White wine glasses are designed to maintain white wine's temperature and complex flavor notes. These glasses are generally characterized by their narrow opening and long stem. Both common white wine glasses tend to have a very sharp curve to help the glasses concentrate the aroma.
Riesling white wine glasses are designed for acidic white wines like Sauvignon Blanc. They’re also excellent for use with acidic rose wines. These wine glasses are incredibly narrow, and as a result, they’re highly effective at concentrating the aroma and flavor of the wine.
Chardonnay white wine glasses have a wider bowl accentuating the full-bodied richness of wines like Semillon. The wider opening of the glass softens the aroma and reduces the wine's bite while preserving all the flavors that make soft white wines so appealing.
Tips for Taking Care of Your Wine Glasses
If you're a wine drinker, you might be wondered how to acre for your wine glassware. Here are some tips for how to best care for your glasses.
- Determine if you’re using glass or crystal wine glasses. Each material has unique care requirements, so it’s important to know which type you’re working with and follow the proper care steps.
- Don’t wash your wine glasses with scented soaps. These scents will linger on the glasses and negatively impact the flavors and aroma of your wine.
- Wash your wine glasses gently. You should ideally use a soft sponge to clean the glassware. You should never use rough materials like steel wool or rags, as you might leave scratches and smudges on the glass.
- Remove stains with hot water and baking soda. This is a particularly effective method to get rid of lipstick stains.
- Dry your glasses by wiping them down with a lint-free soft cloth or hanging them upside down on a rack.
- Reduce fogginess on the wine glasses by soaking them in white vinegar before thoroughly washing them.
- Polish your wine glasses by holding them above a boiling pot and allowing steam to gather before wiping them with a soft polishing cloth.
- Avoid using the dishwasher. If you need to do so, verify that your wine glasses are dishwasher-safe before loading them into the dishwasher. None of the glasses should be allowed to touch other glasses to reduce the risk of damage.
- Never use your dishwasher’s drying settings on your wine glasses. They should only be hand dried or air-dried.
- When handling your wine glasses, hold them with a microfiber or lint-free cloth instead of your bare hand to avoid leaving unsightly smudges.
Different glasses have been used for drinking red and white wine for hundreds of years. But why are special glasses used for each type of wine? As it turns out, red wine glasses are designed to improve aeration, while white wine glasses are designed to keep the wine cool. Each glass is meant to optimize the flavor of the wine. When you use the right wine glass for your next drink, you’ll be surprised at how much better it makes the experience.