How Should You Hold A Red Wine Glass?

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You can savor a nice cool glass of red wine on many occasions. Depending on your setting and guests, you may want to practice proper wine etiquette. Red wine glasses are notorious for being classy. With that in mind, some practices come along with them.

You should hold a red wine glass by the stem or base. Your thumb and index fingers should pinch the stem near the base of the glass. You can tuck your remaining fingers in or rest them on the base. Essentially, you do not want to have your hands touching the bowl of the wine glass. 

There are not many rules to drinking wine other than being of age. However, if you feel judged, it is helpful to know proper wine glass etiquette. Even outside of social settings, there are some reasons why you will want to hold your glass this way. Continue for more wine glass tips and customs.

wine glass on hand for wine tasting. How Should You Hold A Red Wine Glass

Is there a correct way to hold a wine glass?

The answer to this question can be a bit contradictory. Yes, there is a correct way to hold a wine glass. However, there are plenty of variations. While they produce similar results, some ways appear more proper than others; thus making them better in comparison.

Female hand with red wine glass

The correct way is based on two factors: appearance and temperature. When you hold a wine glass on the stem or base, it will stay cold longer. Keeping your wine chilled is the number one reason for holding the glass properly.

Although it looks classier to pinch the stem near the base, you can hold it however you’d like. Some prefer to hold just the base, while others may wrap their whole fist around the stem. As long as you do not touch the bowl of the glass, you will be enhancing your experience.

What is the incorrect way to hold a wine glass?

You can only hold your wine glass incorrectly by touching the bowl of the glass with your hands. It is so common to see wine glasses held in the palm with the stem between fingers. That is the worst position for your hand to be in.

Hand holding a glass of wine

The more your hand touches the chilled wine, the warmer it will get. Now, it will not be a huge issue if you only grab it like that for sips. But, if you’re holding it like that for a prolonged time, it warms pretty quickly.

Another incorrect way is to hold the bowl near the rim with your thumb, index, and middle finger. While you are not touching the wine directly, it is still heating the glass. On top of warming the wine, holding the bowl will get your fingerprints all over the glass.

Should you drink wine from stemless wine glasses?

You now know to hold wine glasses on the stem or near the base. But, these days, stemless wine glasses are relatively popular. There are stemless glasses available for red and white wine. You have no choice but to hold the bowl of these kinds of glasses.

You may opt for a stemless glass for more casual events. There are advantages and disadvantages to these glasses.

The biggest advantage is that you can quickly warm wine that is too cold. If you want to avoid warming your wine too much, try focusing your grip around the base of the glass instead of the middle of the bowl.

White and red wine in modern stemless glasses, with slate and timber background

Although it will still warm the wine, you must hold the glass in your palm. Due to this, you would want to avoid drinking white wine from a stemless glass. Red wine, on the other hand, is more resistant to temperature change over time. Even if your wine gets a little warmer, it will not have a huge effect on taste.

What is the difference between a red and white wine glass?

red wine and white wine isolated on white

Now that you know how to properly hold the glass let’s discuss the difference between wine glasses. The primary difference between red and white wine glasses is the bowl size. Red wine glasses will have a much larger bowl than white wine glasses. White wine glasses also tend to be more narrow.

Another difference between the two is that white wine glasses have longer stems. This also has to do with keeping the wine chilled. White wine is more sensitive to temperature than red wine. The glasses used for each kind of wine are crafted to enhance your drinking experience based on the wine’s qualities.

Does it matter what glass you drink wine from?

Wineglasses and wine bottles on display for serving a wine tasting. Red and white fermented grape beverages are poured into two sparkling glasses.

As mentioned above, red and white wines have different qualities. These different qualities are catered to with their specific glass shape and height. If you are a true wine connoisseur and want to get the best experience, then it will matter.

Using the corresponding glass will bring out its flavors and keep your wine chilled.  Red wines have full, robust flavors that benefit from contact with air. The body of a red wine glass is perfect for aerating your wine and magnifying the flavor.

White wine has a much subtler flavor in comparison to red. Some white wines can benefit from aeration, but they require a lot less air to bring out flavors. White wine flavors can lose their vibrancy if there is too much air.

Should you use universal wine glasses?

Aside from wine glasses that are purely made for red and white wine, there are universal wine glasses. These glasses aim at a happy medium between the two. That way, they are large enough to swirl red wine but narrow enough for white wines.

You can find this set of universal wine glasses on Amazon.

You can have a similar taste experience with these universal wine glasses. They are truly the best option if you are looking for a starter set of glassware for all your wines.

Why do wine glasses only get filled halfway?

Unrecognizable man pouring red wine in two glasses.

You may notice that no matter the wine or glass, they are only filled halfway. You would do this for the same reason you want to use the proper wine glass. Filling it halfway allows you to swirl your wine and incorporate air.

Red wine glasses are larger and give you a large area to swirl the wine. They require more air to bring out flavors. White wine glasses are just the opposite. They need less air and have a narrower bowl to limit air exposure.

A rule of thumb is to fill red wine glasses one-third full, and white wine glasses can be one-half full. Due to the size differences, the amounts of wine are comparable. A third of a glass does not seem like much wine, but it is essential to pace yourself. If you’d like guidance, read our article on how long you should take to finish a glass of wine.

Are thin wine glasses better?

Wine glasses in a wooden cabinet in a restaurant

There are a few benefits to using a more delicate wine glass over a thicker one. There has been a debate that it makes the wine taste better, but this has not been proven. Overall, thinner crystal wine glasses give a better overall experience.

Thin glass can improve the experience by allowing you to sip easily. Wine is not meant to be gulped; the thin edge allows you to take a sip without any drippage. There is also a solid neurological connection to thin glasses and elegance. That mental correspondence can completely change the taste of the wine from person to person.

You may prefer thin wine glasses for tasting, but they are very fragile. It is so easy for delicate crystal and glass to get broken, even while in storage. If you need guidance on proper storage, read our article on how to store wine and cocktail glasses.

In Closing

Wine glasses are specially crafted for their purpose. You want to follow proper wine and glass pairings as well as holding positions. To recap: red wine glasses are larger and full-bodied, leaving room for plenty of air. White wine glasses have a longer stem and narrow bowl to allow less aeration.

Above all, you want to avoid holding your wine glass by the bowl. Unless, of course, you have a stemless wine glass. In that case, hold the glass as close to the base as you can. Also, avoid white wines in these stemless glasses to prevent changes in flavor.

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