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What Are Wine Tasting Glasses?

Wine tasting glasses

  • The 21.5cl ISO tasting glass is recognised as the standard design for wine tasting worldwide.
  • A good tasting glass should allow you enough room to swirl and nose the wine.
  • Grape specific glassware is available if you're tasting certain grape types.

Wine enthusiasts, sommeliers and wine merchants often discuss how the correct glass is fundamental to the enjoyment of wine; glassware is of paramount importance. It “would be like buying a state-of-the-art sound system and fitting it to cheap speakers.” Victoria Moore admits that buying an expensive bottle of wine without the appropriate glassware is pointless.

On the other hand, people argue that there are only subtle differences made by glassware and that everyday drinkers should not worry about a glasses shape or size.

Wineware knows it can often be overwhelming choosing glassware for wine as there is so much variation, from the shape and size of the bowl to the thickness/thinness of the rim. This guide is intended to help you understand the benefits of using different wine tasting glasses and make this choice easier.

Whether you are entertaining in the home or using wine tasting glasses in your restaurant, Wineware’s ‘What are wine tasting glasses’ guide can help you.

Can the shape/size of your glass change the taste of wine? Do good glasses really make wine taste better?

The straight forward and simple answer is: glasses cannot change the taste of a wine per se but can significantly alter our perception of it. For example, the right glassware cannot make a bad tasting wine taste delicious. However, a specially tailored glass can make a good wine more enjoyable, full of great flavour and evocative aromas.

Austrian Glassmakers Riedel are known for creating the first functional wineglass. Claus Riedel created a range of glassware shaped like eggs to direct the wine to particular areas of the palate. He made simple changes to the traditional ‘v’ wine glass, changing the glass's rim, depth, and diameter to improve the wine tasting experience. Riedel continues to produce different shaped glassware for specific wines. They strongly believe form follows function and maintain that you need a different wine glass for every grape, style and region. Matching the wine glass to the grape.

What wine tasting glasses should I use?  How do I choose a wine tasting glass?

Sommeliers, winemakers and consumers are continually testing and evaluating wine glasses to discover which is best suited to a particular type of wine or grape variety. Whether you are drinking sauvignon blanc or pinot noir, you will need the appropriate glassware.

Each wine tasting glass differs from one another; its shape, the diameter of its rim, thickness and finish. Therefore it is important to know what wine glass shape and size is best suited for your wine.

The ISO (International Standards Organisation) glass is recognised as the standard design for wine tasting worldwide. The ISO wine glass has a rounded bowl and tapering sides to allow the wine to aerate and be swirled without spilling. The glass is available in various sizes, including 12cl 21.5 cl, 31 cl and 41 cl. It is known as the ‘one glass for all’ perfect for all your wine tasting needs. In particular, the 21.5cl size is ideal for the tasting of port and sherry and is used by wine critics, clubs and professional tasters worldwide.

A general overview to help you choose your wine tasting glassware:

Red Wine Glass White Wine Glass

Red wines

White wines

Usually served in a larger glass. The large bowl allows the aromas and flavours to develop. The wider opening and width of a red wine tasting glass allows the wine to breathe much quicker. Usually served in a medium-sized glass so that the fresh, sweet characteristics are concentrated to the top of the glass. A narrow rim glass allows the white wine to hit the tip of your tongue, highlighting the sweetness. The glass rim can also be adapted to minimise the acidity of a wine, known as the “acidity bumper”.
Champagne / Sparkling Wine Glass Fortified Wine Glass

Sparkling Wine / Champagne

Fortified wines

Best served in a flute style glass. These glasses have a wide, tapered bowl, perfect for holding the bubbles and fizz of sparkling wine. They have been specially designed to retain champagne’s carbonation to create a wonderful bubble texture in your mouth. Usually served in a small glass. These glasses tend to emphasise the fruit characteristics of the drink rather than the alcohol content. As with most glassware, the glass should still be large enough to allow swirling.

The main reason for choosing a specially designed wine glass is its ability to capture and emphasise a wine’s aroma and flavours fully.

“I have never tried different glasses for different wines; I tend to use the same.” The easiest and best way to learn about glassware for wine is to undertake wine tastings using different glasses. Recording your findings and observations will enable you to understand how using certain glassware can affect a wine’s taste and aroma. Wineware has a How to Taste Wine – A Complete Guide to assist with your wine glass experimentation. Like wine tasting, wine glass choice is a personal preference. 

When should I use wine tasting glasses?

Tasting glasses are ideal for home or commercial use. Whether you are hosting a dinner party or using them to serve wine in a restaurant, wine tasting glassware contributes to the enjoyment of wine.

Quick wine tasting tips

  • The relationship between wine and its vessel is crucial to enjoyment.
  • The bowl of your glass should always allow you to swirl the wine around easily.
  • Good quality lead crystal is recommended for glassware. You can tell the quality by how thin the glass is.
  • The glass should be suitable for the occasion.
  • There are so many fantastic ranges of glassware available; find the glasses that suit your lifestyle.
  • High-quality glassware is usually recommended as hand wash only.

Wine tasting glasses can really make a difference to your bottle of wine, so have fun trying out different glassware with your wine! If you require any further assistance purchasing your wine tasting glasses or any other enquiries, please feel free to contact Wineware.