Is there a universal wineglass style I can use for red and white wines?

Ask Dr Vinny

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,

I’m having a big party and want to serve red and white wine, but I only want to use one type of wineglass. What do you suggest?

—Leslieann, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Dear Leslieann,

I think an all-purpose set of quality glassware is a terrific investment for wine lovers, because it will help you enjoy your wine. There are a lot of variables and brands and specialty glasses out there, but nice options start at about $15 a glass, and less if you're buying a set (or take advantage of holiday sales). If your budget can go up to $20 or $25, you’ll have even more options.

I don’t have an endorsement deal with a wineglass company yet, so I’ll just give you some general advice. Most important, look for glasses with a thin rim. I used to recommend hand-blown glass, but there’s been a lot of advancement in machine-made glasses in recent years, so there are more options now.

For a single, all-purpose shape, I’d recommend a tall Bordeaux-style glass (versus the wider-bowled Burgundy styles). I find this shape works well with a wide range of wines, including sparkling and dessert-style wines. I like that they’re a little easier to handle and swirl. They should taper in slightly at the top to concentrate the aromas. I wouldn’t pick anything smaller than 10 ounces—my all-purpose glasses hold more than 20 ounces, but I am an absent-minded swirler, and a bit of a klutz sometimes. Those glasses keep the wine in my glass and not on the tablecloth.

If you can, try to hold them in your hand first to see how they feel, and imagine you’ll have about a third of the glass full of wine. Will you be able to do a healthy swirl without spilling? Does it feel balanced? Or is it too top-heavy?

I’m not a fan of stemless wineglasses because fingerprint smudges drive me nuts, but they are a good option for households with limited cupboard space or excitable tail-wagging dogs. They're certainly easier to fit in the dishwasher.

I’ve found that wineglasses are a deeply personal choice. I have a couple of specialty glasses that represent the types of wines I drink most often, and Champagne flutes that I like to hand out to guests when they arrive (but some of my colleagues have convinced me that sparkling wine is best enjoyed in a larger glass). If it’s within your budget to expand your collection, have fun. I’ve been lucky enough to sit through a few wineglass seminars to know that there’s some science behind all of those shapes, and they can matter.

But please treat yourself to some good basic glasses. I remember the first time I set a table and everyone had the same wineglass. I felt like I unlocked an impressive adulting achievement.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

Does a magnum have a longer drinking window than a standard wine bottle?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how bottle size can impact when a wine is at its …

Sep 23, 2020

Why do wines taste different outdoors?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains some of the many environmental factors that can …

Sep 7, 2020

How do you order a glass of red wine? I want to try Zinfandel but I’m not sure how to word it.

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers tips for ordering wine at a restaurant.

Sep 18, 2020

Why are beers aged in wine barrels? And what's a "foeder"?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why large, used wine barrels, or "foudres," have …

Sep 16, 2020

Can I recycle wine bottles that have metal or plastic capsules on the top? Is it true that some capsules contain lead?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers tips for recycling wine bottles and handling older …

Sep 14, 2020

Half of a broken cork ended up in my wine bottle. Is that OK?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers advice for what to do when a cork breaks.

Sep 11, 2020