How does the glass you drink from affect the wine you drink?

Glassware has been used in wine consumption since at least the 1500s, but it wasn’t until the late 1800s that scientists began studying how different types of glasses affected the taste and aroma of wine[1]

These discoveries led to a new wave of research on glassware shapes and styles: what works best? How do different shapes affect flavor? Are there any advantages to using specific types of glasses?

The shape and style of the glass can affect the taste of wine in two significant ways. First, the shape and size of the glass can affect how much air meets the wine, which affects its oxidation rate. If the glass is too small, it won’t allow enough oxygen to help oxidize the wine. This will result in a flat taste because there will be no biting tannins or acidity to give it life.

Second, the shape and size of your glass can affect how much aroma is released from your wine. A narrow-mouthed glass will force you to vigorously swirl it to release aroma from its surface area. This may not seem like a big deal until you consider how much time you spend mixing your glass before taking a sip—and if that time could be better spent drinking the wine.

Red wine in a glass

Ways to preserve wine’s flavor

Good wine glasses can make all the difference in your enjoyment of wine. When you’re swirling a glass of red and taking in its aroma, that’s when you’ll be able to appreciate how complex it is. The shape of a glass affects the amount of wine vapor that gets released, which means that different shapes will affect how much you get to smell.

Choosing a tall, narrow glass lets you swirl more air over the surface area than a shorter, wide one. A round bowl also allows air to move around more easily than square or rectangular ones do; this enhances both scent and flavor by releasing more aromas from each sip and making them linger on your palate.

Thinner glasses are excellent for sparkling wines like Champagne or Prosecco but will break easily if dropped!

A glass that is too small can cause the wine to take too much time to aerate, while a glass that is too large can leave the wine tasting flat.


The best way to preserve a wine’s flavor is to keep it in contact with oxygen for as long as possible, but the trick is not to overdo it. The shape of the glass affects the amount of wine vapor that gets released[2]. The wine should be able to swirl and aerate in the glass, but if it’s too small or too large, this won’t happen.

In general, your best bet is to use a type of glass specifically designed for wine—this will ensure that you get all its aromatic qualities without wasting any on spillage or evaporation. If you don’t have a special decanter handy, there are still ways to ensure your glass choice doesn’t compromise your experience.

Different shapes of wine glasses

A large bowl-shaped glass is suitable for wines with intense aromas because it allows more air to pass through it, allowing you to smell more. If you are drinking red wine with a fruity aroma, this type of glass will be ideal.

If you enjoy white wines with delicate aromas like citrus fruits or flowers, then a narrower wine glass will be better since these types of wines need less oxygen to open their flavors.[3] Here are some key factors to keep in mind when selecting a glass:

  • You should be able to swish the wine around your mouth and smell it.
  • A round glass allows you to swish wine in your mouth when you take a sip.
  • A good glass of wine will taste better with a round glass because it allows the liquid to spread out across your tongue, and cheeks, stimulating all the different taste buds on both sides of your mouth. This makes the experience more enjoyable and gives you a chance to appreciate the flavor profile fully.
Wine Glass

Glass thickness

If you’re looking for your wine to be as close to the glass as possible, then thin glasses are a good choice. But be careful—these types of glasses are very fragile. If you’re not careful, you could cut yourself on one of these pieces of crystal.

Read also: The Science, Art, and History of Wine Bottle-Making

Look into thick-walled glasses instead if you prefer something more durable with a little more heft. These won’t break as easily, but they can still be fragile enough that dropping them could cause them to shatter. Placing hot drinks in any type of glass will increase its likelihood of shattering upon impact with any surface.

The importance of glass as a material

It’s advised never to use plastic or metal cups, only glass or ceramic vessels. The shape of the glass is essential, but the most crucial factor is that it is made of glass. The wrong material can change the taste of your wine unpleasantly.

The size of the glass

The general rule is that thinner glasses will provide more intense aromas and flavors than larger ones, although both options have pros and cons.

Large glasses allow for more air circulation around the wine to breathe on its own, which helps release carbon dioxide bubbles.

Smaller glasses preserve heat more efficiently but make it easier for heat from hands or other objects near the vessel’s surface to transfer directly into your drink.

Different types of wine

Many different glasses can be used to enjoy wine, each with its benefits and drawbacks. The shape and style of each glass will affect how you taste your wine[4].

Serving white wine

These wines should be served in a clear white wine glass with a long stem. The long stem helps keep the wine’s temperature low by keeping it away from your body heat. If you’re drinking red wine out of a white wine glass, you will probably notice it tastes different from a red wine glass. This is because red wines are best served at room temperature or slightly chilled; serving them warm can make them taste bitter.

Serving red wine

Red wines, in most cases, should be served in glasses with wider bowls. This helps bring out the aroma of a good bottle of red wine. Red wines should also be served at room temperature or slightly chilled—not warm.

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This day in our Wine history

1784: Thomas Jefferson purchased his first set of wine glasses for Monticello from Parisian glassmaker Pierre-Jules Thomire. The glasses were hand-blown, and Thomire signed each. Jefferson also had a set of English crystal glasses made by George Woodall III. He was famous for making crystal items for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

1810: Benjamin Franklin Bache (the grandson of Benjamin Franklin) published “Domestic Economy,” which includes instructions on how to make glassware at home. Bache and other Americans were making their own wine glasses as early as the 1790s. These early American glasses are called blob or hobnail stemware. They have rounded bottoms that can be stacked easily without breaking or tipping over.

1837: Francois Boulle invented the “simple” (or ordinary) wine glass. A stemmed goblet with no foot designed to be held easily by hand while standing upright on a table. The stem allowed one hand to hold it while the other was free to eat food or drink water.

Want to read more? Try these books!


[1] Margaret A Cliff: Influence of wine glass shape on perceived aroma and colour intensity in wines Journal of Wine Research 12 (1), 39-46, 2001

[2] JF Delwiche, Marcia Levin Pelchat: Influence of glass shape on wine aroma;  Journal of sensory studies 17 (1), 19-28, 2002

[3] MAR Vilanova, Pablo Vidal, Sandra Cortes: Effect of the glass shape on flavor perception of “toasted wine” from Ribeiro (NW Spain); Journal of Sensory Studies 23 (1), 114-124, 2008

[4] Francesca Venturi, Angela Zinnai, Gualtiero Fantoni, Donata Gabelloni, Armando Viviano Razionale: Glass and wine: the indissoluble marriage. ICED 13: the 19th International Conference on Engineering Design, 497-506, 2013

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