how to hold a wine glass

Learning how to hold a wine glass might not sound very important unless you have someone to impress, but it’s a vital part of getting the most out of your wine.

Knowing how to hold your glass makes you look more sophisticated. More importantly, it can also significantly affect the quality of the drink by allowing the wine to air correctly and reducing the impact of your fingers on the temperature of your wine.

Today, we will tell you everything you need to know to handle your wine glass properly, whether you’re enjoying crisp white wine in a stemless wine glass or warm red wine in a traditional glass. Read on for your complete guide.

Why You Need to Hold Your Wine Glasses Properly

refilling liquor

There is a wide variety of wine glasses out there intended for different types of wine. Just as you use a champagne flute for sparkling wine and champagne, you’ll use more typical wine glasses for sipping wine during a party or event. Most standard wine glasses have a bowl, base, and a thin glass stem connecting the two. The stem is the best part of the glass to hold.

Whether you’re tasting wine as part of your vacation or joining other wine drinkers for a dinner party, it’s important to hold your wine correctly to improve the drinking experience. The most important reasons for learning how to hold a wine glass include:

1. It preserves the temperature of the wine.

Most wines are served below room temperature – although this isn’t always the case with red wine. White wines are best served at temperatures between 49 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, while red wines should ideally be at 62-68 degrees F. These drinks require cold temperatures to get the right sugar level and preserve the wine’s aroma.

Cupping the bowl of a stemmed wine glass will increase the temperature of the wine through your body heat. This may lead to negative changes in the wine when you’re drinking it.

2. Your glass isn’t ruined.

Perfecting your wine glass hold also means you don’t have to worry about leaving greasy fingerprints on the glassware. This allows you to see the colour of the wine more clearly and prevents you from damaging the glass itself.

3. You’ll be able to swirl more easily.

Swirling red and white wines isn’t just something you do to show off in wine communities. It’s also a wonderful way to get the most out of the wine-drinking experience. Wine enthusiasts will tell you that swirling helps your wine reveal the full flavour profile much faster.

If you rest your glass on a surface between drinks, hold the stem and swirl it gently. Most wine connoisseurs won’t risk spilling the liquid. You’ll be able to gently swirl the wine to release scents and flavours without harming its temperature or spilling your drink on the dinner table.

Holding a Wine Glass With a Stem

As mentioned above, there are many kinds of wine glasses today. The type of glass you use will often depend on several things, including whether you’re drinking red wine, sparkling wines, or something like rosé.

Drinking wine from a glass with a stem is simple enough. All you need to do is pinch the stem of the glass between your index finger and thumb carefully. You can also use the index, middle finger, and thumb for greater stability. Your ring finger and pinkie finger should be resting gently on the base at the bottom of your wine glass.

This is the best method to use if you’re going to be swirling your drink like a wine enthusiast. A stemmed glass will give you much control without the risk of a lukewarm wine. Hold the stem just below the bowl with your pointer finger, middle finger and thumb if you’re concerned you’re not holding the glass securely enough.

When holding a stemmed white wine glass, try to avoid touching the glass bowl, as this can influence the drink’s temperature. Holding it at the stem also allows you to view the different colour hues in the glass.

Holding Stemless Glasses

Stemless wine glasses are simple to hold as a water glass. These are popular for aesthetic purposes, but they can also be a good choice if you’re looking for red wine glasses. A red wine glass doesn’t require as much caution when it comes to transferring heat.

When using stemless glass, aim to grip its bottom with your thumb, middle, and index fingers. If you feel unstable using stemless wine glasses this way, you can put your ring and pinkie fingers under the middle finger for additional support.

With stemless glassware, you won’t be able to avoid touching the bowl of the glass. This is why it’s much harder to maintain the correct temperature of your drink. If you want to avoid influencing the temperature of the wine too much, leave your wine glass on the table until you’re ready to drink. Resting your wine glass on a flat surface from time to time is a good idea to let the wine breathe.

In general, use a traditional wine glass for white wine and something similar to a water glass if you’re drinking a darker red wine. Stemless red wine glasses can also be good for port and similar drinks.

Filling Your Wine Glass Correctly

Learning how to hold a wine glass can seem a little complicated. There are different etiquette rules to consider in various wine regions. However, you can often follow a few basic rules to fit in with other wine enthusiasts. For instance, you should never grab your wine by the glass rim or press your fingers against the glass bowl.

Filling a wine glass

It’s also important not to fill your wine glass too far. In most cases, you’ll hold a wine glass with around a third of it filled with red wine or half with white wine. Around three-quarters of the glass can be filled for sparkling wines.

Filling your wine glass too far doesn’t allow much breathing space for the drink. This means it’s harder to detect the aroma and tasting notes of the wine. Red wines need to have a lot of breathing room to get the most out of the drink. In many cases, if red wines haven’t had a chance to breathe in a decanter before being served, they’ll be poured into slightly wider wine glasses with a larger surface area.

Tips on How to Hold a Wine Glass

No one wants to hold a wine glass the wrong way when drinking in public. Make sure to practise holding your glass if you’ll be going to something like a wine tasting event. You can experiment with using your dominant hand and non-dominant hand whenever possible to ensure you have more freedom with your glass.

Other tips for using your wine glasses correctly include:

Rest Your Glass

Rest your glass on a flat surface from time to time. The more you rest your glass, the more the wine inside has time to settle and breathe without being jostled around. Resting your glass also means you can practice holding it properly without your fingers getting tired.

Sip From the Same Spot

This is particularly important if you’re wearing lipstick. You’ll need to sip from your glass in the same spot each time to avoid making the glass appear dirty or smudged. This is also one of the reasons why you should only use two fingers and your thumb and keep the rest out of the way if possible. Keeping your remaining three fingers tucked away reduces smudges.

Examine the Wine Inside Before Drinking

If you’re going to learn the proper way of drinking wine, you should also learn how to appreciate the drink. When you’re not making eye contact with other people, examine the colour of the wine, tilting and swirling it in your glass where possible. Avoid swirling too heavily unless your glass has a wider bowl to avoid accidental spills.

Minimise Contact With Your Glass

No matter how you have your hand positioned as you hold your wine glass, it’s best to minimise contact. Direct contact with the bowl of the glass will have a particularly significant impact on the drink and may make it harder to preserve the right temperature.

Look at the Glass When Drinking

When you pick up your wine glass to take a sip, it’s good etiquette to look down at the wine glass. Part of the reason for this is that you can properly see all the colours in your glass. Another reason is you’ll be able to reduce your risk of spilling wine on your clothes. Make sure you do make eye contact when making a toast, however.

How Not to Hold a Wine Glass

lipstick mark on the rim

The more time you spend learning how to hold a wine glass, the more confident you’ll be when attending events. Remember, a white wine glass is most likely to be a stemmed one that you hold with your index finger and thumb. The way you hold a wine glass with red wine can differ depending on your preferences. You may use a stemless glass with your pointer finger, middle finger support, and thumb. However, don’t hold a stemless glass by the rim.

The proper way to hold a wine glass can vary depending on where in the world you are. However, the most common option is to use minimal fingers and keep other fingers out of the way. If necessary, you can let your pinkie finger rest naturally against the base of the glass, but it shouldn’t touch the stem. Perhaps the worst way to hold a wine glass is to fill it with the same amount of wine regardless of which colour you’re drinking. And then grab it by the lower half of the bowl.

Most wine experts hate seeing women gripping the top of a flute for sparkling wine or the whole bowl of the glass for wine. This often immediately harms the temperature of the wine and makes it harder to derive the same amount of flavours and scents from the drink itself.

Don’t hold a glass of wine like a beer by cupping the top of the glass, either. This increases your chances of sipping warm wine significantly. Additionally, though you may think it looks classy, holding your wine glass by keeping the stem between your ring and middle finger is a bad idea for the same reason. You’ll be placing more of your palm against the base of the bowl, warming the contents of the glass.

Make the Most Out of Your Wine Experience

Drinking wine often means following a few more rules than you typically would with other drinks. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Learning how to enjoy wine correctly means you can get the most out of the drink’s flavour, thereby improving your wine experience significantly. If you’ll be going on a wine tasting tour or you want to start experimenting with classy wines, you should know how to hold your glass.

For the most part, remember to use a traditional wine glass wherever you can. Although other glasses can seem stylish, they’re much more likely to cause problems with the temperature of your drink. This is particularly true if you don’t have anywhere to set your glass down between sips so it can settle properly.

If you’re visiting a place where you’re unsure of the wine etiquette, it might be worth glancing around you and finding out how other people hold their wine before you begin taking sips of your own drink. This will allow you to follow the crowd and reduce your risk of feeling embarrassed when you’re in public.

Do you know any unusual but acceptable way of holding a wine glass in other countries? We’d love to hear it. Please share your experience in the comments below.

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