The first glasses


For a long time, the process of making glassware was very labor intensive. By the way, even today, machines cannot replicate the quality of handmade crystal glasses. The glass was fragile, which understandably increased the price of the products.


Glassware was passed down from generation to generation as family treasures. Glass as we use it today, transparent and shiny, was created in 1674, when the technologist Georg Ravencroft invented the composition of lead glass – crystalline.


This served as the reason for a real pottery boom in continental European countries in the 17th and 18th centuries. at the turn of the century. The emerging aristocracy and bourgeoisie became the driver of this boom. It was at that time that the basic types of glasses for various drinks were created. At the beginning of the 18th century, there was active trade between the countries, which contributed to the increase in the assortment of glasses at the same time as the popularity of new drinks increased.

Glass with the Coat of Arms of George III Sobieski and the City of Gdańsk at the George Ravenscroft Glassworks, engraved by Willem Muhlizer, 1677-1678, National Museum in Warsaw

Red and white wine glasses with a long stem were joined by glasses with a low stem for brandy and gin, balloon-shaped and “shooting” glasses, which we know as shots (from the English shot). There is a known version that the glass got its name after it was knocked sharply against the table surface after emptying.


We are all different and so are our tastes and sense of taste, from those who think of food as simply ‘fuel’ to those who have their own secret family recipes for risotto or steak sauce. Similar differences exist among wine consumers, from a €3.99 bottle from the supermarket to unique wines from the best vineyards on the planet. From those who drink and don’t pay attention to what they are drinking, to those who have designed a glass with a special shape for each wine.


I believe that a wine glass should be seen as a tool. A good analogy is the sound quality of music. You can have high-end hardware and a great jazz record, but if you don’t have quality amplifiers or audio, the sound won’t be as enjoyable as it could be.


Size and shape matter


For a better understanding, let’s divide the glass into three conditional components: cup, foot and base. The variety of wine glasses affects how we perceive the aroma of the drink, changes the speed and concentration at which the receptors of the nose perceive the vapors of the wine. The wider the cup, the more the surface of the drink will be in contact with the air and the aromas of the wine will be able to circulate and express themselves better.


Zalto glāze ar vīnu

A huge number of different molecules that make up the aroma evaporate from the surface of the wine, and it is important to properly direct the vapor to the place where our nose touches the glass. Therefore, you should not fill the glass more than a third, because usually there is also the widest part of the glass, after which it gradually narrows towards the top to better capture and focus the wine vapors.

A huge number of different molecules that make up the aroma evaporate from the surface of the wine, and it is important to properly direct the vapor to the place where our nose touches the glass. Therefore, you should not fill the glass more than a third, because usually there is also the widest part of the glass, after which it gradually narrows towards the top to better capture and focus the wine vapors.

Avoid glasses with a small cup – the exception may be glasses for fortified and dessert wines. As a rule, glasses for red wine are always larger, because red wine needs more time and air to open.

Old Mouton Rothschild

But don’t worry, thin glass doesn’t make the wine smell or taste better, rather it affects the overall perception. The weight of the glass is also important. It’s like the cutlery scale, only in reverse. Studies confirm that diners find the meal more sophisticated when the cutlery is heavier. Elegant glasses allow you to fully focus on the aroma, while thick and heavy glass draws attention to the weight of the glass, not its contents.

How to hold a glass

Now about the legs. The stem of the glass serves three distinct functions.

First, it allows you to hold the glass without touching the glass, thus not warming the drink with your hand (which is especially important for wines served chilled) and keeping the glass clean and transparent, free of fingerprints.



Second, our hands have their own unique aroma caused by the use of lotions, creams and other perfumes, which can interfere with perceiving the true bouquet of the wine, but the stem allows you to keep your hand away from the wine enjoyer’s nose.




Thirdly, thanks to the foot, the wine can be stirred in the glass, creating elegant swirls. I assume you have come across this or done it yourself. You will ask – why is it necessary? Swirling improves the aroma and taste of the wine, because during rotation, the drink is enriched with oxygen faster – aeration. At the same time, the walls of the glass are rinsed with wine, which increases the evaporation area and thus the intensity of the aroma.

There are two methods of decanting wine:

  • “social” when you simply swirl the glass in your hand;
  • “table” when you hold the stem of the glass with two fingers and rinse the wine in the glass on a smooth, hard surface.

Before using the first option, I recommend practicing so as not to spill yourself or your neighbor while swirling a glass of wine in your hand. Practice at home with water, but remember not to fill the glass more than a third.

What works for which?


Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, Barbera – three varieties of red wine that are usually best opened in the so-called Burgundy glass – with the widest, round-shaped (apple-shaped) cup. This type of glass will also suit a complex Chardonnay.


For wine made from thicker-skinned grapes such as Cabernet, Merlot, Sangiovese, Zinfandel/Primitivo, Syrah, Tempranillo, Grenache, Dolcetto, Aglianico, elongated glasses with a slight taper at the top are best. They are designed to receive a higher dose of oxygen, which must come into contact with the wine to enhance the fruit aromas and soften the tannins.


This type of shape concentrates the aromas more than a wide glass. These are called Bordeaux glasses


As a rule, glasses with a smaller cup are used for white wine than for red wine. The main reason is that the aromas of white wines are lighter. The smaller shape makes it easier to perceive the wine’s aromas while minimizing oxygen to keep the drink fresh.

Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio, Albarino, Chenin Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc – in other words, most white wines are usually best served in elongated, tapered glasses, similar to Bordeaux glasses but smaller in size. This shape allows fruit aromas to be concentrated at the top of the glass

Zalto White wine glass

You can serve rosé wines in white wine glasses. A tapered cup usually “works” better, but the long stem helps keep the temperature lower. This shape allows the fruity aromas in rosé wines to be expressed to the maximum extent

Zalto White wine glass

For champagne and sparkling wines, I would recommend two types of glasses. For the best sparkling, vintage champagne or prestigious cuves, go for Burgundy glasses, similar to red wine. If you’ve come across a bottle of mature, full-bodied champagne with complex aromas, a classic white wine glass will do just fine.


Glasses for drinking Cremant are, in my opinion, historically associated with glasses of sparkling wines. However, they will not be the best option if you want to really appreciate the drink – the bubbles will run out quickly, the aroma will dissipate, and the small depth of the glass may be the reason that the drink is spilled. No one knows where the talk that vintage Cremant glasses resemble the shape of Marie Antoinette’s breasts came from, perhaps they are just male fantasies. In fact, the glass was created in England specifically for champagne, and it happened around 1663, so almost 100 years before the French Queen was born .

Vecās šampanieša glāzes

Dessert wine glasses are characterized by a conical cup shape, which allows the wine to rotate easily and balances the wine-air ratio. The glass helps bring out the wine’s acidity and mute excess sweetness

Sauternes glass

Port wine and sherry differ in higher alcohol content, for them the optimal choice will be a reduced version of a white wine glass with a small, delicate shape and a narrowed neck. Such a design helps to focus on the aromas of fruit, oak and spices without obscuring them with alcohol vapors.

Dessert wine glass

Summarizing everything, I want to emphasize that the shape and size of the glass can affect your perception and highlight the bouquet of the wine, but if you pour the wine into an inappropriate glass, you are literally robbing yourself. My advice is to buy glasses that give you pleasure, but make the decision about which manufacturer to prefer, how many types and which design glasses to buy, according to your own taste and possibilities. The price of a simple but correctly shaped glass is still less than the price of a bottle of wine. Don’t forget that good glasses are also a wonderful gift that will always be useful to your loved ones and friends and will be enriched with new aromas, tastes and emotions.

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