Good wine glasses do make a difference

By John ~ February 1st, 2008.

For the best possible wine tasting experience, you want a glass that is large enough so that half-filled it holds a standard serving of wine (1/5 bottle or 150 ml). That means at least a 10 oz. glass, or larger if you prefer. You never want to fill a wine glass more than half-full (1/3 full is even better when you are evaluating wines) because you want to be able the swirl the glass gently without spilling any wine.

A tasting glass should be clear, uncolored, stemmed, and tulip-shaped (meaning a larger bowl than top rim). They call these glasses stemware because they should be held in your fingers by the stem, so your hand does not touch the bowl and affect the temperature of the wine in the glass. Most important, all glasses used in a tasting should be identical.

20080201_viticoleglasses.jpgIf you plan to host wine tasting dinners, we would recommend that you buy a couple cases of Viticole Tasting Glasses made to INAO standards. They are good all-purpose glasses, reasonably priced, and dishwasher safe ($3.00-$3.50 per stem from Marjorie Lumm Glassware, #9910 in her catalog). Two cases will allow for eight tasters to taste six wines each without having to wash any glasses.

Because wine glasses can pick up odors from their surroundings, stemware should be carefully cleaned and stored. Non-perfumed detergents should be used. Once the glasses have been cleaned and dried, it is preferable to store them upright to limit odor contamination on the inside of the glass, although hanging glasses upside down can make it easier to pick up a glass without getting fingerprints on the bowl.

If you have some truly collectible wines, you might consider buying a few Riedel crystal glasses. After all, if you can afford a $400+ bottle of wine, what’s another $75 for the ultimate wine tasting experience?

While Riedel will be happy to sell you a different expensive crystal glass for almost every wine type, in the typical wine-consuming home you can get by just fine with just two glasses per person, a flute for sparkling wines and one large all-purpose wine glass for everything without bubbles.

Filed under: General Wine Information, Wine Gifts/Accessories

Reader's Comments

  1. Anna | March 31st, 2008 at 4:53 am

    Well said John. I am a wine enthusiast myself and understand the importance of glassware that can enhance the wine drinking experience. Last week my wife had arranged a wine tasting party and we wanted just the perfect glasses. While checking out a couple of websites I came across And bingo, this was exactly something I wanted. Check their website, I am sure you would like to try Silhouette glasses.

  2. Carol | June 15th, 2009 at 10:42 am

    I can’t believe I just found this site… it’s wonderful! And I definitely agree about how a good glass can open up the flavors of a wine; I use Riedel glassware, and actually just bought a decanter online from Vintage Cellars for my collection, and they gave me free shipping! My wines taste even better now.

  3. John | June 15th, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Glad you finally found us. Hope you’ll be a regular now. As you have found out, good glassware does make a difference.

  4. Employee Incentives | November 16th, 2009 at 9:37 am

    I love wine but I never really knew glasses make a difference. I just did a blog about wine accessories that you might like (