What's the proper way to hold a wineglass?

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Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

What's the proper way to hold a wineglass?

—Cora, St. Louis, Mo.

Dear Cora,

First and foremost, the wineglass should be steady and comfortable in your hand. That said, you can hold your wineglass any way you want. And you can stop reading now if you’d like, because some folks consider the next part hogwash.

Beyond it being comfortable in your hand, there is etiquette to holding a wineglass, which also happens to be the first step in looking sophisticated and wine-educated. The good news is that it’s not complicated and doesn’t require any pinkies sticking up. Give this a swirl … (rimshot!)

Wineglasses are designed to be held by the stem (if there is one—if not, there are no rules). This ensures that the warmth of your hand doesn't transfer heat into the wine in the glass. Holding the glass by the stem also makes it easier to swirl and to admire the color of the wine, and keeps the bowl of the glass free of fingerprints. It doesn’t matter where on the stem you hold the glass; I typically find my hand pinching the stem toward the bottom, near the base because that’s comfortable for me. Some people go a step further and hold the wine by the base itself, but that’s when I start feeling awkward—if I do that, I can’t swirl the wine without spilling it all over my fur. But holding the glass by the base is also considered appropriate, and is actually a bit of a pro move.

I see a lot of people grabbing a wineglass by the bottom of the bowl with the stem in between their fingers as if it was a brandy snifter. I understand this can feel like a secure way to hang on to your glass, but it’s not considered the most civilized way to do so. I know, I know, this topic is hogwash to some people, but I’m not doing my job if I don’t explain the etiquette around wine.

—Dr. Vinny

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