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Wondering how many total glasses and which different types of wine and cocktail glasses you should have at home or for a party venue? Baffled by the dizzying array of glassware in the kitchen stores? We've done the research for you. In this post, we’ll give you a comprehensive look at just how many wine and cocktail glasses - and what types - you will need for just about any occasion!
The amount of wine and cocktail glasses you should have depends on whether you are simply stocking a home bar or whether you are calculating for a party. For a home bar, have at least six glasses for each type of drink you like to serve. A basic mix would be coupe, red wine, white wine, highball, champagne, and rocks glasses. To calculate glasses needed for a large venue, calculate 1.5 glasses per person for each type of drink you will be serving.
There are so many wine and cocktail glasses to choose from; it seems impossible to know how many you should have. But once you’ve read this simple explanation of why there are so many shapes of glasses, you’ll know exactly how many you should buy - or rent!
The science behind glasses
So, how many wine and cocktail glasses should you have? You can answer this question by looking at why there are so many types of glasses from which to choose. Glasses are shaped differently because they are all about enhancing the tasting experience. The shapes of glasses are made to enhance the aroma, the taste, and the temperature of wine and cocktails!
Wine glasses with tall and wide bowls are made to expose a large area of the wine to air, allowing the alcohol to evaporate and the aroma to reach your nose. Similarly, cocktail glasses with wide openings give you a delicious whiff of the drink. White wine glasses have an opening that is a bit smaller to concentrate aromas at the top.
When it comes to taste, the shape of the bowl and the size of the opening direct flavor to different parts of the tongue to enhance certain characteristics. For example, a big, round bowl will send drinks to the front of the tongue, where sweetness is detected. Even the flare of the glass itself and the thinness of the lip can direct liquid to specific parts of the tongue. This enhances certain flavor profiles of your drink.
Ever wonder why there is a stem on glasses? It keeps the warmth in your hand away from the liquid in the glass, keeping white wines and champagnes cold. Tall, thin cocktail glasses are used for drinks with lots of ice, so the small opening keeps the drink cold longer. Round-bowl snifters with short or no stems allow your hand to warm liqueurs like Cognac or Brandy to magnify the aroma.
Wine glasses come in many shapes, as seen on this wall chart, which can double as decor for your home bar.
What is the difference between red and white wine glass?
Do you really need different wine glasses? It is really a matter of personal preference. However, here are the primary differences to help you determine from what glass you'd like to savor your sips of wine.
Red Wine glasses
The difference between red and white wine glasses has to do with the difference in the two wines themselves. Most red wines need to breathe - to allow the alcohols to evaporate - so these wines will benefit from a large surface area as well as a tall bowl to allow the aroma to accumulate.
White Wine glasses
White wines have less alcohol - their earlier harvest leaves them with less sugar - so white wine glasses need to collect the delicate aromas of white wine. A smaller bowl and a smaller opening will maximize this collection and improve the tasting experience.
A clear look at the difference between red and white wine glasses.
How many glasses do you need per person?
For parties or weddings
For large parties or weddings, calculate 1.5 glasses per person per type of drink you plan to serve. Another option is to assume that each person will drink one drink every hour, so multiply the number of guests by the hours of the event; 100 guests x 4 hours = 400 drinks. Add one champagne glass per person -excluding children- if you plan on a toast. If you are serving beer in bottles, you can subtract the number of glasses needed.
For a home bar
For the typical home bar the amount of glasses you have depends on what kind of drinks you like to serve. A good rule of thumb for a classic home bar is to have between four and eight glasses each; white wine, red wine, rocks, high-ball, and martini or coupe glasses. Don’t forget to include any glasses for specialty drinks you enjoy, such as frosty margaritas!
What glasses do you use for cocktails?
Different shapes of cocktail glasses also enhance the flavor and aroma of drinks, and they come in so many fantastic shapes and colors! Here are a few considerations to help you decide which glasses to use for your cocktails.
Tall and thin glasses
These glasses are ideal for mixed drinks with lots of ice. Most of these drinks are combinations of liquor or liqueur, plus non-alcoholic mixers like club soda, tonic water, or soft drinks. Tall glasses are also a great showcase for a fancy layered drink. They are usually called Collins glasses after the drink, Tom Collins, or highball glasses.
Short and squat glasses
If you want to serve Scotch or Cognac, or drinks made without mixers, a rocks or old-fashioned glass is ideal. It’s large enough to hold a drink with a few cubes of ice but small enough to serve a single shot.
Specialty glasses are as varied as they are interesting. For drinks that are shaken and poured straight up, not over ice, you want the flavor and aroma to burst forth when you bring it to your mouth. In this case, the wide mouth martini or even the coupe glass is an excellent choice. Margarita glasses echo the shape of a sombrero and bring an authentic Mexican flair to your drink. Beautiful copper mugs keep Moscow Mules and Mint Juleps cold as well adding a stunning look to your drinks tray.
A beautiful cross between a martini and a coupe glass, excellent for port, champagne, martinis, or poured cocktails.
What are the best cocktail glasses?
Ultimately, the best cocktail glasses are ones that combine form and functionality. Consider a tall glass with a small base; it may look great, but it tips over easily. Or glasses with a beautiful finish that tarnishes or peels off when washed? These are a waste of money and materials. Look for glasses that are designed well, feel good in your hand, and are made from quality materials.
Here is an example of an inexpensive set of good cocktail glasses for the beginning home bartender.
Why are thin wine glasses better?
Thin wine glasses allow you to take very small sips. You are then able to taste and savor the complex flavors. For example, imagine drinking wine out of a coffee cup. It’s hard to take a small sip! But don’t feel like you must have paper-thin glasses. Many people - and restaurants - opt for sturdier wine glasses to avoid breakage. Focusing on the shape and height of the bowl will still enhance the flavor experience even without a thin glass.
What is the best all-purpose wine glass?
There are several schools of thought on this question; some are that each wine needs a specific glass, and some are that wine can be drunk from whatever glass you prefer. You’ve already read above about why there are differences in the shapes of glasses. The reality is, the shape of the glass is a matter of personal taste.
If you are perfectly happy drinking your wine out of one glass style, you shouldn’t worry about what the experts are saying. Let your nose and taste buds be your guide. Many people only have one type of wine glass. If you have limited space, choose a wine glass according to what wine you drink the most, red or white.
This lovely glass can be used for both red and white wines.
As you can see, choosing how many cocktail and wine glasses you should have depends on several criteria. Whether you are having a wedding or stocking a home bar will be important. Choose glasses that suit your drinking preferences, and look for glasses that are functional as well as beautiful. Don’t worry about expert opinions; let your nose and taste buds be your guide. À votre santé!
For more information, read about "How To Store Wine And Cocktail Glasses" and "How To Make Colored Sugar For Cocktail Glasses [Fun For Parties!]."