Serving in Style: How to Choose the Correct Glassware


Why is Glassware Important?
Selecting the right glassware for your table and bar will enhance the appearance of your presentation, add elegance to your serving style and give flair to an aspect of ordinary dining and entertaining that is often overlooked. Beyond the aesthetics, specialized glassware is created to complement the drink it is intended to serve. Knowing the basics of wine, beer, and cocktail glasses can ensure that each and every beverage you serve can be enjoyed at the peak of its flavor. Use this guide to determine the most appropriate glassware for your needs and impress friends and connoisseurs alike.

Wine Glasses
Although wine glasses come in many different sizes, the cup portion or “bowl” is the most important aspect. The visual appeal, body of the wine and play of the aromas are all factors in choosing the correct glass. There are no hard, fast rules for serving wine, but the following standards are generally observed.

  • Red Wine – Traditionally, red wines with strong bouquets are served in the larger bowled wine glasses. The greater exposed surface gives these heady wines a good opportunity to breathe without losing the aroma.
  • White Wine – Lighter, more delicate white wines are served in taller glassware with a more narrow bowl that allows the bouquet to concentrate.
  • Champagne – The tall slender flute style glass is the best fit for champagne as it displays the sparkling quality of the bubbles at the best advantage. The low, wide open champagne glasses aren’t really practical as they are easily spilled and cause the champagne to go flat much more quickly.
  • Sherry/Port – As sherry and port are generally strong wine hybrids that are served as pre or post dinner aperitifs, they are generally served in exceptionally small glasses. Like liqueurs, Sherry and Port are both meant to be sipped and the size of the glass indicates the correct serving amount.

Beer Glasses
While true beer enthusiasts will tell you that using any glass is preferable to drinking from the bottle or can, there are specific glasses for specific types of beer. Like wine, the shape of the glass will affect the aroma and subsequent overall enjoyment of the beer. Unlike in Europe where there are many different types of beer appreciated and thus many beer glass styles, American beer is typically served in mugs or pilsner glasses. A pilsner glass is the typical tall narrow glass with the slightly wider rim that you will see frequently used in bars. Lighter beers are traditionally served in pilsner glasses while darker, heavier brews are more compatible with mugs or steins.

Cocktail Glasses
There are countless numbers of cocktail concoctions and mixed drinks, but luckily most of these drinks are intended for a standard set of glasses.

  • Collins Glasses – Alternately referred to as tumblers, these 14-16 oz tall glasses are the right choice for soft drinks, whiskey sours, bloody marys and any juice-based cocktail such as the cranberry juice and vodka. The larger size of the glass complements the limited amount of alcohol content in these drinks. Most standard drinking glasses can be classified as Collins glasses.
  • Highball Glasses – At a slightly smaller 10-12 ounces, highball glasses are used for stronger mixed drinks such as the tequila sunrise, gin and tonic and long island iced tea. These are also commonly used when a “tall” version of a stronger drink is requested. Thin and elegant, the highball glass is a classy addition to any glassware collection.
  • Rocks Glasses – Also called “old-fashioned”, these small square shaped glasses are used to serve cocktails with a high alcohol content and little else, such as rum and coke, southern comfort or seven and seven. As can be inferred from their name, rocks glasses are also used to serve shots “on the rocks”.
  • Shot Glasses – As the name indicates, shot glasses are used for serving shots straight up. In addition, shot glasses can also be used to measure the amount of alcohol used in other mixed drinks and are a great addition to any bar, even if you don’t plan on serving shots.
  • Hurricane Glasses – A tall glass with a graceful curve in the center, Hurricane glasses are typically employed to serve their namesake drink, along with daiquiris and margaritas. The beautiful shape of the glass makes any drink visually pleasing.
  • Martini Glasses – One of the most easily recognizable glasses and the favorite of James Bond devotees worldwide, martini glasses are primarily used to serve…martinis. The wide, triangular glass is available in many unique styles and is a staple of any bar set-up.
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One thought on “Serving in Style: How to Choose the Correct Glassware”

  1. I really love what you said about how it was important to choose the right glassware, as it helps ensure that you can enjoy the drink at the peak of its flavor. My brother has been setting up a small bar in his basement, and has been looking for glasses. I’ll advise that he choose a variety of glasses designed for the different kinds of drinks, so that him and his friends can fully enjoy the fine alcohol.

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