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There are notable differences between white wine and red wine, but you may also be wondering what the difference is between a white wine glass and a red wine glass, and why that is.
Strict differentiating between the proper vessel for consuming wine may have, in many circles, gone the way of the decanter. That is — it doesn’t seem worth the trouble. But the fact is, glass shape makes a noticeable difference in aroma, which is a key part of wine enjoyment, and proper aeration can impact taste.
How to Choose the Right Wine Glass
There are as many shapes of wine glasses as there are types of wine, from sweet port to robust red. But to keep it simple, more full-bodied reds with strong aromas will work best with a wide bowl, while more delicate whites are better served with a narrow glass.
Red: Robust reds like cabernet sauvignons and Bordeaux are generally served in larger wine glasses with wide bowls. A large bowl allows for more room between the drinker and these varietals’ high alcohol and tannin content, giving the complex aromas room to dissipate and waft up to your nose, while the oxygen softens the tannins and makes for a smoother taste.
White: White wine glasses are generally smaller and more slender than those used to serve big reds. The narrower shape funnels these wines’ more delicate aromas upwards, while the smaller bowl keeps chilled wines cool for longer.
Sparkling: Sparkling wines, including champagne, prosecco, cava, and others, are generally served either in a flute or a coupe glass. The thin flute shape minimizes the wine’s contact with oxygen, thus preserving the effervescence for longer. The coupe glass just lets you feel like you’re in a 1920s speakeasy with the Fitzgeralds.
Dessert: Sweet dessert wines and fortified wines like port or Lambrusco are served in small stemmed glasses about the size of a shot glass. The small size and narrow rim reduce evaporation while highlighting the fruity flavors.
1. Riedel Heart to Heart Cabernet Sauvignon Glasses
We like this pair of cabernet sauvignon glasses for red wines for the generous size and shape of the bowl, elegant design, and fine blown crystal material which is, blessedly, dishwasher-safe. They have a tall stem and super wide shape you can wrap your hands around, perfect for sipping a cozy, full-bodied red around the dinner table or the fire pit.
2. Riedel Extreme Riesling Glass
The sharp contours on this set of white wine glasses give them a stylish, sophisticated look that we appreciate, especially as white wine glasses tend to be treated as standard all-purpose wine glasses and can thus appear boring. According to the manufacturer, the narrow, elegant shape best supports floral whites, while oakier Chardonnays, for example, may work better in a large glass.
3. Elixir Classy Champagne Flutes
The squared-off shape of these champagne flutes set them apart design-wise from the standard glass, which we appreciate. We also like that these glasses come in a set of four, packaged in a conveniently giftable box — perfect for weddings, housewarmings, anniversaries and more. These flutes also get top marks for shape and size, which is tall, with eight-ounce capacity, and a relatively wide rim, which we find more enjoyable to sip from.
4. Stolzie Crystal Port Wine Glass
If you’re the type of person who enjoys dessert wines, then we’d recommend this set of six elegant port wine glasses. The small, stemmed glasses fit 3.5 ounces, and feature a tapered rim designed to amplify the sweet and fruity aromas of dessert wines. Even if you don’t drink a lot of port in your daily life, we also like these glasses for juice or even creative dessert plating.