The Tip For Holding A Wine Glass The Right Way And Preserving Taste

There's a right way to hold a wine glass with a stem, and that's by the stem. This is a matter of both etiquette and doing everything possible to preserve your wine's taste and aroma.

Starting with the latter, wine glasses didn't always have stems. When 15th-century Venetian glassblowers finally figured out how to fabricate stems sturdy enough to support the vessel holding the wine, it may have been driven, at least in part, by aesthetics — i.e., a gracefully long stem more beautifully displays the vessel/bowl and its contents. And when it comes to experiencing fine wine, all of the senses should be gratified in some respect. Moreover, wine connoisseurs maintain that the addition of the stem was, in fact, all about engineering a better wine-tasting experience.

"Each part of the modern, stemmed glass was designed to enhance the drinking experience," wine scholar and teacher Tanya Morning Star Darling explained to Eater, with the bowl-shaped vessel concentrating the wine's aromas in the vicinity of the nostrils, and the stem serving as a clever temperature-regulating device. To wit, the stem offers a place to grasp the glass without touching the vessel holding the wine itself.

Plus, this set-up literally puts distance between the hand and the wine. The upshot is that having a stem to hold onto prevents heat from the wine drinker's hands from transferring to the wine in the glass. We'll get into why you'd want to avoid that — as well as two notable exceptions, below.

The goal is ideal temperature

Wine experts advise that in most cases, the right way to hold a wine glass is by the stem — this keeps the hand's heat at a distance from the wine. That goes for all varieties of wine, white or red or otherwise because the ideal temperature for serving all wine is always colder than room temperature. Yet the moment the wine leaves its chilled storage nook, it's already attempting to align itself with room temperature, And the heat from your hands, being higher than room temperature, will only speed up that process.

One notable exception is when the wine arrives at the table at a colder temperature than whatever temperature happens to be ideal for that particular variety. In that case, cupping the bowl with one's hand for the brief time it might take to bring the wine to the desired temperature is not only logical but a technique practiced by some sommeliers. Indeed, etiquette expert and author, Lizzie Post, the co-president of the Emily Post Institute, sees the logic as well, as she advised The Cookbook Podcast.

Another exception is when you're served wine in a stemless wine glass. But even then, best wine-tasting practices dictate holding the bowl as close to its bottom as possible and touching the bowl with as few fingers as possible, which is entirely consistent with the right way to hold a stemmed wineglass. In all cases, this technique will make it easy to swirl your wine without sloshing it overboard.