Red vs. White Wine Glasses: What’s the Difference?

Yes, they actually are designed differently.

  • Rachel Baron
  • Nov 21, 2022
red vs white wine glasses
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When thinking about different wine glass shapes, it’s helpful to think about the unique characteristics of red and white wines. Broadly speaking, red wines need more aeration in order to let their flavors and aromas sing, meaning they’re best served in a glass with a larger bowl.

On the other hand, white wines don’t need as much aeration, and therefore don’t require quite as much room. They’re also both served at slightly different temperatures— red wines taste best when served just a bit below room temperature, whereas whites are usually chilled.

While a true oenophile might insist on using different glasses for Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Chardonnay, we think that two sets of glasses—one for Red Wine and one for White Wine—is more than enough for everyday wine drinkers. Here’s a detailed guide to Red Wine Glasses vs. White Wine Glasses, and how to shop for both of these styles.

What Is a Red Wine Glass?

As we briefly mentioned, a glass designed for drinking red wine will generally have a larger bowl than a glass designed for white wine. The main reason for this is that red wine tends to taste best when it’s introduced to more oxygen. The larger capacity of a Red Wine Glass gives you more room for swirling—and thereby oxygenating the wine—as well as for appreciating the range of colors and textures present in different types of red wines.

Wines that particularly benefit from a larger glass are ones that are high in tannins, or compounds that influence texture, as well as bitterness and acidity, and therefore require plenty of oxygen to balance them out. Bordeaux, Cabernet, and Malbec are known for being especially tannic wines, which is why there are types of Red Wine Glasses specifically for these types of wines.

What Is a White Wine Glass?

Compared to bolder red wines, white wines tend to have subtler flavor profiles and aromas, as well as lighter bodies. Accordingly, they tend to taste best in smaller glasses, which create less distance between your nose and the wine and make those aromas easier to pick up on. The smaller surface area also helps the wine stay cold, and a slightly tapered shape helps to trap more of the aromas.

You can use White Wine Glasses for serving any kind of white wine: popular varieties are Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Does the Shape of Wine Glasses Really Matter?

While you could technically enjoy wine from any kind of glass, the shape of wine glasses really does make a difference in how you experience a wine. As we mentioned earlier, wines vary in terms of factors like body, tannin content, and alcohol content, all of which influence flavor and mouthfeel. The shape of a Wine Glass helps play up these traits, from the shape of the bowl to the distance between the base and the lip.

If you’re pouring a really great vintage, the shape of the glass definitely matters—the larger bowl of a Red Wine Glass will allow you to better appreciate the beautiful rich reds and viscosity of your favorite Cab Sav. Plus, the wider opening will let you breathe in all those sumptuous dark fruit aromas.

What About Stems?

The stem on a wine glass is there for more than just aesthetic reasons: it actually plays an important role in enjoying and holding your wine. White Wine Glasses—or any glass used to serve chilled or iced wine beverages—will typically have a slightly longer stem. This is to keep your hands as far away from the bowl as possible, thus keeping your wine nice and cold.

Stemless wine glasses are a popular alternative to stemmed glasses, though we prefer stems for better temperature control, as well as for swirling the glass. Plus, they make it easier to clink glasses!

What Glass Does Rosé Go in?

Because rosé is often served chilled, it’s best served in a slightly smaller glass—preferably one with a stem. For this reason, we recommend serving it in a White Wine Glass. If you prefer to sip your rosé at room temperature, however, you can also try pouring it into a Red Wine Glass.

What to Look For in Wine Glasses

red wine glasses

There are a few specific traits to look out for when shopping for Wine Glasses. Here, we’ve listed some of the most important ones in order to make your stemware-shopping experience a breeze.

  • Thin, elegant-feeling glass enhances drinking experience
  • A thinner rim allows the wine to flow easily from the glass to your lips (look for an unrolled rim for this reason)
  • Titanium-reinforced stems, like those in our Red and White Wine Glasses, make your glasses resistant to breakage
  • A shape that mimics that of a decanter makes for easier aeration
  • Dishwasher-safe glass means you won’t spend precious time wiping out your glasses every night

Ready to Shop?

Now that you know why size, shape, and stem length  matter in a wine glass, you’re probably ready to take on the role of your friend group’s resident stemware expert. But before you invite everyone over, you should make sure you’ve got the right glasses. Made In’s Wine Glass Set gives you eight durable, elegant glasses that are perfect for a wide range of different reds and whites. We even love them for an unexpected presentation for beer or cocktails.

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