How to Hold a Wine Glass the Right Way

You may drink a lot of wine and know the difference between a pinot grigio and a cabernet, but do you know how to hold your wine glass correctly? Chances are, if you just copy what you see on TV, you’re doing it wrong.

Whether you are using a traditional wine glass at a fancy restaurant or the Georgetown wine cup at a tailgate, there’s a correct way to hold it, and it isn’t just about looking proper. Holding the glass correctly maintains the integrity of the wine’s temperature, taste, and scent.

The Four Parts of a Wine Glass
Before discussing how to hold a wine glass, it’s important to understand the terminology. Every traditional wine glass has four parts:

  • The base: the flat, circular part that rests on the table and provides stability
  • The stem: the long, thin part of the glass that connects the base and the bowl
  • The bowl: the part of the glass that holds the wine
  • The rim: the top of the glass where you drink from

The shape and size of the bowl are different based on the type of wine you are drinking. Red wine glasses are wider at the bottom of the bowl to allow the wine to breathe more, while white wine glasses are a narrow U-shape to maintain the cooler temperature of the wine. Flutes are tall, narrow glasses that preserve the bubbles in champagne or sparkling wine.

In the 1700s, wine glasses only held about 2.2 ounces of wine, mainly because glass was harder to work with, which meant it was more expensive. Today’s wine glasses hold nearly 200% more wine, with the average glass holding a standard pour of 6 ounces.

The Proper Way to Hold Your Wine Glass
Although it might feel like the natural place to grip your glass, you should never hold your wine glass by the bowl. Instead, use the stem to maintain the correct temperature of the wine.

You have a few options on how you physically hold the stem:
  • Pinch the stem with your thumb, index, and middle fingers and curl your other fingers into your hand (this particular grip offers the most stability).
  • Pinch the stem with your thumb, index, and middle fingers, and rest your other fingers on the base.
  • Pinch the base with your thumb on top and your other fingers on the bottom.

While you may feel silly at first, holding your glass by the stem is the most elegant approach. It keeps your 98.6ºF fingers away from the perfectly chilled wine. It also prevents fingerprints on the wine glass, which interferes with the ability to truly study the contents of the glass for color and clarity, which is part of the experience for serious wine drinkers.

But My Stemless Glasses Don’t Have Stems!
Don’t panic! You don’t need to donate that custom tumbler cup you just ordered. If you are hosting casual events when preserving the temperature of the wine and the cleanliness of the glass aren’t your number one priorities, a stemless glass is acceptable. Stemless glasses are the better option if you are on a picnic, a cookout, or traveling because they are less fragile than traditional wine glasses.

When drinking from a stemless glass, don’t hold the top of the glass near the rim. Instead, use your thumb and two fingers to hold it near the bottom of the glass, and try to set it down whenever you aren’t actively taking a sip.

Other Wine Drinking Skills to Master
If you’re looking to polish your wine drinking abilities or gain further knowledge of the art of vinification, there’s more to it than how you hold the glass. You should always drink from the same spot on the rim to keep the glass cleaner and minimize excess contact with the glass. This degrades the scent of your wine, which negatively impacts the taste since the two are so closely linked.

Always fill the glasses to the appropriate level to avoid spilling and get the best experience out of your wine. Depending on the type of wine you’re drinking, you may not realize there is a correct amount of wine to add to your glass. Red wine glasses should be ⅓ full, white wine glasses should be ½ full, and a champagne flute should be ¾ full.

When sitting at the table, always place your wine glass to the right of your water glass, which should be in the upper left corner of your place setting. If you need to hold your drink in between sips, rest the base in the palm of your non-dominant hand for added stability.

Swirling is perfectly acceptable, and in some cases, even beneficial since it allows potentially unpleasant notes in wine to dissipate. Move your glass in gentle circular motions for 10-20 seconds before taking a sip.

There is also proper etiquette to be aware of when enjoying a glass of wine with good company. Always look into your glass when you drink from it, even if you are in the middle of an intense conversation. Conversely, always maintain eye contact during a toast.

Personalized Wine Glasses Make the Perfect Gift
In the 8th century, people began monogramming their belongings to show off their power and social status. Today, monograms allow you to customize mass-produced items and prevent those embarrassing moments when you forget which glass is yours at a party or dinner with friends.

Regardless of the type of wine glass you prefer (and we won’t judge you), personalized cups make a great gift, whether it’s for Mother’s Day or a bridesmaid gift. At Threadwell, we offer various fonts, styles, and colors to make your personalized wine glass look classy, whether it’s traditional or a tumbler.