The glass act: Are you drinking your wine in the right stemware?

Beware, a glass designed for a particular varietal may not give you the maximum taste advantage if you drink another grape from it.


When you take a sip of wine, would you like to taste alcohol, or the incredible aroma of mellowed fruit like apricots and pears? Would you like a delicious after taste or are you used to the slight bitterness left on your tongue? Sure, you've heard of the varietals, terroir and the time of harvesting. Perhaps you also know that glasses with stems are used for wine and how to hold them and why. But did you know the shape of the glass enhances the flavours of the varietal you've uncorked? There's more. Did you know that for a red you must use a slightly taller and wider bowl, a narrower one for white, and one with a long stem and a long bowl shaped like a tulip for a sparkling? But. Beware, a glass designed for a particular varietal may not give you the maximum taste advantage if you drink another grape from it. 

For cognac


Called a snifter or a balloon glass, this one for cognac has a short stem and a very wide bottom with a relatively narrow rim. It should ideally be made from very fine crystal. 

For pinot noir


The Pinot Noir is best enjoyed in a glass that has a tapered rim, that takes the wine to the tip of your tongue and balances the acidity and the tannins.

For chardonnay


Chardonnay works best in what is called a Chardonnay glass. This is also the standard white wine glass, is versatile and the usual go-to for whites if you don't want too many specialised glasses in your bar cabinet.

For sauvignon blanc


The Sauvignon Blanc is tall and has a slender base and less wide bowl. Its narrow mouth takes the sweet and fruity aromas to the front of the tongue.

For shiraz


For a Shiraz, you'd do best with one that comes with a wide base and bowl and the rim is tapered inwards. This allows its fruity flavours to emerge before the tannins.

For champagne


For Champagne and sparkling wines, the glass should ideally be a tall and slim: The flute shape is deemed best as it keeps the bubbles in and for longer. The carbonation in a sparkling wine is retained best in this shape and adds to the fizzy texture in the mouth.

For riesling


Riesling and Zinfandel are best had in Riesling glasses which are smaller and more narrow than a typical Chardonnay glass. 

Pro Tips


1. Younger white wines taste best with a bigger mouth which allows the wine to fall on the tip and the sides of the tongue.

2. Taller and straighter glasses work better with older and more mature wines. The bolder flavours in these  are tasted better at the back and the sides of the tongue.

3. The acid is felt most strongly at the sides of the tongue and is what give that particular vibrancy to the wine. The acid works as the balancer in sweet wine. If insufficient, the wine could be oversweet. 

4. The tannin gives a bitter taste to the wine and causes dryness in the mouth. It is also what provides viscosity to the drink and the astringency on the gums. 

5. The alcohol is the amount of ethyl alcohol in the wine and less would mean a sweeter one


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