How to Properly Hold a Wine Glass
The way you carry yourself says a lot about who you are. It displays your style, elegance, and composure. The same goes for how you hold your wine glass.
In addition to adding a touch of class to your vino experience, the proper way of holding a glass of wine is vital for protecting your bottle's integrity and taste. Whether you’re enjoying a frosty glass of Pinot Grigio on a summer afternoon or a slightly chilled bottle of Pinot Noir for a holiday celebration, the way you carry your glass is essential for ensuring optimum flavor and ideal wine temperature.
To understand why the proper technique is more than just a “fancy” suggestion, let’s break down different wine glasses, their best uses, and how to hold a glass like a wine connoisseur:
The Main Types of Wine Glasses
Whether you are new to wine or a bonafide expert, you’ve likely noticed there are two main types of serving glasses: stemmed glasses and stemless glasses.
While stemless glasses can often be affordable, reliable, and great for informal entertaining, we will focus on stemmed glasses -- the kind typically used at restaurants, wine tastings, and vineyards.
Stemmed glasses can vary greatly in look, feel, and proportions, but they are generally composed of four primary features:
Crafted to provide maximum flavor and aroma; red wine glasses tend to have larger bowls than white wine glasses.
Provides a connection between the bowl and base; allows the drinker to grip their glass without heating it with their fingers or leaving smudges.
Gives the glass its stability; lets the drinker comfortably set down the glass without it toppling over.
Wine Insiders Tip: Refer to our detailed Wine Glass Guide for more information on matching wines with the proper glasses and other advice on choosing the best glasses for you.
Wine Glasses and Temperature
While the way you take care of your wine, both before and after opening the bottle, has a dramatic effect on its temperature and quality, the way you hold your glass of wine can also have a substantial influence.
If you consistently use a stemless glass or hold a stemmed glass by its bowl, it can have disastrous effects on your wine. A mistake made by even the most passionate wine enthusiasts, ignoring the need for a stem puts you at greater risk of overheating your wine.
When wine is overheated, its flavor and aroma profile have an immediate, noticeable decrease. This tangible reduction in quality can make your wine taste sour, flat, or just generally unpleasant.
We recommend using a stemmed glass (and following our detailed instructions below) to avoid this. This will ensure you can enjoy your wine at an optimal temperature and keep your beautiful glasses free of distasteful, finger-induced smudge marks.
But, if a stemless glass is truly your only option, your best bet is to hold it by the base so that you can minimize the interaction between your warm hands and your chilled wine. This technique mimics, to an extent, the effect of a well-used stem.
Wine Insiders Tip: For further guidance on storing and serving your wine at the ideal temperature, check out “Is It Okay To Store Wine In The Fridge?”.
The Best Way To Hold Your Glass of Wine
So, now that we know more about the structure of your wine glass and the importance of holding it properly, it’s time to break down the steps you should follow when preparing and holding your stemmed glass of wine:
1. Find The Best Glass For Your Wine
If you have ordered wine in a restaurant, you probably know that there are many different types of wine glasses -- often designed for specific varietals and blends.
While there’s no need to purchase a specific glass for every wine in your collection, here are some general tips for matching your wine with its optimal glass:
Typically, red wines thrive in glasses with a larger bowl, which allows you to enjoy their taste and aroma better. This explains why reds such as Burgundy and Pinot Noir often come in larger, wider glasses.
Conversely, most white wines often thrive in glasses with narrower bowls and rims, except Chardonnay. As a bigger, bolder white varietal, Chardonnay thrives in a glass whose (comparatively) larger bowl and wider rim can accentuate its stronger layers of flavor and aroma.
Wine Insiders Tip: Sparkling wines are nearly always served in tall, narrow glasses. This serving style helps maintain peak carbonation and creates a more pleasant drinking experience.
2. Hold Your Glass In The “Classic” Style
Finally, the moment of truth. Here is the way to properly hold your glass of wine:
- Pour your wine into your glass.
- Carefully place the stem between your thumb and forefinger
If this method sounds simple, that’s because it is! Even though correctly holding your glass is a big deal, it doesn’t mean it has to be complicated.
In fact, this simple technique is ideal for multiple reasons. First, it prevents you from heating your wine glass with your hand. Second, it removes the risk of smudging up your wine glass with your fingers. Lastly, it makes you look like a classy, well-to-do wine connoisseur!
Whether you’re at a dinner party, a fancy restaurant, or your house, this quintessential method is Wine Insiders’ recommended (and favorite) style of holding a glass.
Wine Insiders Tip: Refer to the photos throughout the article to visualize this “classic” style.
Wine Insiders: Your New Home For Wine
Now that you know the best ways to hold your wine glass, it’s time to fill it with your favorite wine!
At Wine Insiders, we’ve developed a wide-ranging selection of delicious, flavorful wine for every mood and occasion. Whether you like an oaky red, a crisp white, or a bubbly, sparkling wine, we have you covered with great taste and affordable prices.
For more information about wine, storage, food pairings, and more - check out our full library of Wine 101 Guides!