What Are the Different Types of White Wine Glasses?

N. Swensson

For many wine connoisseurs, having the appropriate glass for a particular type of wine is vital. There are seemingly endless shapes and sizes to choose from, but white wine glasses usually all share a few characteristics. White wine glasses are usually slightly taller and smaller at the base than red wine glasses. Also, the top of a glass may be narrower for sweeter and more delicate white wines and wider for those that are more mature with bolder flavors. Sometimes the stem of a white wine glass is longer to help keep it at a cooler temperature, although some glasses have no stem. Usually, the best-quality glasses are thin, which allows proper visual evaluation and tasting.

Glasses of white wine.
Glasses of white wine.

Almost all wine glasses are narrower at the top of the bowl and wider at the bottom, which helps to direct the wine's scent toward a person's mouth and nose. A wine with brighter and sweeter flavors can be served in a glass with a narrower top, which directs the wine to the tip and sides of the tongue. A glass with a longer and more upright shape can be used for fuller-bodied whites with bolder flavors. This shape disperses the wine to the back of the tongue. A white wine glass usually has a narrower bowl than a red wine glass, but it still should be wide enough to swirl the wine and observe its legs and other visual characteristics.

Sparking white wine is typically served in a champagne flute.
Sparking white wine is typically served in a champagne flute.

White wine glasses often have a long stem so that the wine isn't warmed by contact with a person's hand. Holding a glass by the stem also prevents smudging the bowl, which can detract from visual inspection of the wine. For some people, a longer-stemmed wine glass is also more visually appealing than one with a shorter stem. Stemless wine glasses are also available that have a more casual appearance and are less fragile than long-stemmed glasses.

For those who are casual wine drinkers, a good-quality thin glass is usually sufficient, although more serious connoisseurs may prefer crystal. A white wine glass should have a thinner rim so the wine can be properly sipped. As white wine glasses can vary greatly in price, it's best to choose the best-quality material that is still affordable for an individual budget.

White wine glasses are narrower at the top to direct the scent toward the mouth and nose.
White wine glasses are narrower at the top to direct the scent toward the mouth and nose.

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Discussion Comments


Perhaps the most important thing when choosing any wine glasses set is to avoid cheap wine glasses. Most people won't know the difference between glasses suited for red or white wine, but they can spot cheap ones a mile off.

The only other advice I would have is to get some with slightly fluted rims. That makes it easier to get the last couple of swallows of wine without having to tip up the glass too much. It is kind of hard to explain, but trust me on this. The physics of that work.


If you are going for something crystal, get an etched crystal. I'm talking about those deep, intricate etchings that look like they came straight out of the 18th or 19th century. That is nothing but classic and your guests will love them.

By the way, my wife and I have a set of etched wine glasses that go well with both red and white wine. Of course, we aren't that refined when it comes to such things and just picked some glasses we thought would work with anything. The etched, crystal ones we bought have served us well over the years.

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