Your Easy Guide to Wine Glasses with Louisvale Wines

It’s time to raise a glass to your favourite wines- but what glass should you be using? As with many parts of the intricate culture around wine, what glass pairs with what wine can be baffling indeed for newcomers. Luckily, you have Louisvale Wines to help you through it. There’s almost 20 types of wine glass, each uniquely shaped to help you get the very best taste and aroma from the wine inside. Today we break down the most common types of wine glass, when to use them, and why. Soon you’ll be the local expert!

Why Are There So Many Types of Wine Glass?

If you spend even a few minutes with any guide to wine glass types, you’ll see that a lot of glasses are named for specific wines. Obviously no one but the most dedicated wine lover is going to have a set of glasses for each and every wine type they enjoy! It’s most common to have a set each for red and white wines, and then possibly some of the more exotic types- like champagne flutes. So don’t feel the need to invest a small (or large) fortune into niche glasses unless you really want to showcase a specific wine variety you adore. Both red and white wine glass types have a set of shared characteristics that will carry easily between varietals.

Past these shared characteristics, the little tweaks and variations are designed to bring out the very best in each unique type of wine- but as we mentioned, don’t worry too much about such refined nuances unless you really want to get deep into the world of wine collecting. Sometimes the style is less about the wine itself than how it intertwines with history (champagne glasses are notorious for these ‘trendy’ variations), so learning more about them can be a fascinating glimpse into the history of human celebration as well as the wine itself.

Red Wine Glasses

Red wine glasses have a large bowl and a wide opening, which allows the wine to breathe and release its aromas while also allowing the wine to oxidise slightly to soften its tannins. So if you see wide, generous bowls, the glass is probably designed for red wines. The two types you’re most likely to encounter are the broad, open Burgundy and the taller, deeper, but still wide-mouthed Cabernet Sauvignon. If you see a smaller, shallow bowl with a distinct wave in the side (think of an upside down bell), it’s likely intended for gentler Rose wines. Meanwhile, a deep and wide bowl that narrows distinctly at the top is made for the Pinot Noir. The Bordeaux wine glass looks like a taller, but neater, Cabernet glass, with a small narrowing at the top and often angled sides, and can easily be confused with the shorter, but slightly wider, Zinfandel. It’s also the tallest red wine glass on the market.

White Wine Glasses

White wine glasses have a smaller bowl and a more narrow opening, which helps to preserve the delicate aromas and flavours of white wines without too much oxidation overwhelming them. You’ll see a lot more variety in general shape here than with red wine glasses, and it’s easy to mistake the classic Chardonnay glass for a red wine glass if you’re not careful. Look out for a very upright and distinctly U-shaped bowl, rather than the more flared and open bowl of red wine glasses if you want to try our Cape Chardonnay in the perfect glass. The more open design lets you fully experience the sweet flavours of this unique wine type.

The Vioginier glass is also somewhat similar to red wine glasses, but much smaller and distinctly narrow at the top. Wine glasses for sweet wines have a similar look, but a notable angular design that you can’t miss when you know what to look for. Unsurprisingly, we have the tallest, narrowest glass for sparkling wines (often called a flute), in order to help conserve the carbonation and stop them going flat too quickly.

The outlier in the white wine category is the ‘vintage’ glass. Honestly, this is not a great style to preserve the wine itself, but does have a fascinating history! Very broad and shallow, they’re prone to spillage and can easily over-aerate a wine, so taste can be hit-and-miss. But what other glass can claim to have been modelled on a famous queen’s bosom, even if it’s just a myth? If you want to appreciate your wine for its own sake, skip these- but they can make a beautiful addition to any collection. There’s also a Rose variation with a flared lip, but the difference between ‘white’ Rose and ‘red’ Rose glasses is subtle indeed.

The Unusual Glasses

In addition to these basics, you have some glasses meant for fortified wines and other less common circumstances.

  • Port Glasses: Small and narrow, with a bowl that is slightly larger than a shot glass. They are designed to enhance the rich, sweet flavours of fortified wines like port without overwhelming you with this heady variety of fortified wine.
  • Sherry Glasses: These glasses are similar in size and shape to port glasses, but with a slightly larger bowl. They enhance the nutty, caramel-like flavours of sherry and are often created with a more angular bottom to the bowl.
  • Dessert Wine Glasses: Another small and narrow glass, with a bowl that is slightly larger than a port glass. They help to enhance the sweetness and complexity of dessert wines like Sauternes and Tokaji.
  • Aerating Glasses: With a unique glass apparatus at their heart, these glasses are designed to aerate your wine as you drink it. A nifty trick, but not strictly necessary to enjoy a great wine.

The Best Starter Wine Glasses

So what to buy first? We’d actually recommend a glass that hasn’t appeared on our list so far- the ‘balloon’ glass. This is a very basic, slightly larger, version of the wide red wine bowl, which can easily be used for any red wine as well as Chardonnays. From there, we’d recommend a narrower white wine glass that matches your drinking tastes, and then a flute for sparkling wines. But the choice of what you drink from, just like your favourite wine, is wholly up to you.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this quick dive into the world of wine glasses! As always, the Louisvale Wines team are here to help you if you are confused about the best type of wine glass to use for your favourites, and we’re only an email away if you need us!