Did you know that the right wine glass you drink from is just as important as the wine you put into it?

The shape, material, and size of the wine glass are all factors that have a considerable impact on your wine-drinking experience. So, if you are the average wine drinker looking to buy new glassware, you may have encountered the numerous varieties of styles and shapes to choose from. There is actually a wine glass for every style of wine you would ever drink – a glass specific to Pinot Noir, one for Bordeaux, another for Chardonnay and on and on. Let’s be realistic though, do you really need a specific glass for each wine you drink? Of course not, but you will want a different set for the reds, whites and bubblies that you drink regularly.

To better understand what glasses are fit for your home collection, you will need to learn the different components of a wine glass and how each component has its own role. A wine glass is comprised of four elements: the base, the stem, the bowl and the rim. Though the bowl is typically viewed as the most important element, it is safe to say that the rim and the stem almost just as important. A thinner rim will be more comfortable for drinkers as they sip, and a smooth rim will not disrupt the wine as it flows from the glass to your mouth.

Wine drinkers often say that most of the enjoyment of wine comes from its aroma, therefore the way one swirls wine in the glass bowl greatly affects the taste. When you swirl wine, the motion you create aerates it slightly and releases some of the wine’s aroma, this can also be known as the “nose.” Since aeration is vital to the tasting, the bowl of the glass should be large enough to comfortably swirl the wine without spilling it. The bowl should be slightly tapered at the top which allows the glass to retain and concentrate the nose of the wine. The bowl used with red wines and white wines will vary in its size and function.

Although there are many types of wine varieties, the most common types of red wine are Bordeaux, Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. These full-bodied wines require a larger bowl as they need room to breathe and release their aroma as well as time to for the wine to “open”.  In general, red wines have a bolder taste and nose and require a larger glass to allow those aromas and flavours to emerge.

On the other hand, if you’re more of a white wine drinker, whether it be Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc – look for a glass that is smaller than the typical red wine glass. A classic wine glass is shaped like a “U” and narrower. This shape gives enough room for the aromas to be released but also helps to maintain the cooler temperature of white wines.

In the last few years, stemless wine glasses have become trendy as they can be more practical and less fragile. However, stems do serve a purpose other than looking formal. When you hold the wine glass by the bowl, your fingerprints can ruin the clarity of your wine glass. As well as having your hand directly on the bowl will quickly warm a red wine which should be served well below body temperature and slightly above room temperature.

In summary, the rule of thumb is that while a larger bowl will do little to no harm to a white wine, a bowl that is too small can affect your enjoyment of a red wine. On the other hand, while a wider opening is better suited to aerate a red wine, it will allow too much of the subtle aromas of a white wine to escape. Flutes are ideal for champagne and other sparkling wines as they help the bubbles last longer. So a bigger bowl and wider opening for reds and a smaller bowl and narrower opening for whites – that’s the bottom line.