The Right Way to Hold a Wine Glass - Public Goods

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The Right Way to Hold a Wine Glass

Fun fact, did you know you’re using all five senses every time you sip your favorite glass of wine? Did you know there’s also a correct and wrong way to hold a wine glass?

hand hold stem of wine glass filled with red wine, green sweater sleeve, wine bottles, window

You don’t need to be a sommelier to look like an expert.

Get comfy and pour yourself a glass to drink as Christina Anderson-Heller, Marketing Director at Lynfred Winery, demonstrates why it’s important to hold a glass of wine the right way.

How to Hold a Wine Glass (with Class)

hand holding wine glass stem and swirling red wine in the glass

Here’s a little secret our wine expert wanted to share with all of you, including the number one take-away to remember at your next shindig.

“Number one rule of thumb if you really want to look like you know what you’re doing is to always hold the stem of the glass. Wine glasses have stems, not just because they look pretty, but so you don’t put your hands on the glass. You want to avoid your hands warming the wine and, secondly, so you don’t get your fingerprints on the glass,” Anderson-Heller advised.

Knowing these pointers will not only benefit your wine drinking experience but make you the toast of the party.

Why Holding a Wine Glass by the Stem is Actually Important

wine glass stem on a napkin, granite countertop

Properly holding a wine glass is simple, yet extremely important to the experience. You don’t want the wine to warm because white wine is best served at about 55 degrees Fahrenheit and red wine at about 65 degrees Fahrenheit (or room temperature). You will inadvertently warm your wine if you put your hands directly on the glass.

Also, placing your fingerprints on the bowl will prevent you from getting a clear picture of your wine before you drink it. Knowing the proper way to hold a glass of wine will ensure you’re clearly able to see what’s inside the glass — which is the first step in wine tasting.

What you want to do is put your wine glass up against a white background or up to the light. Look for the wine’s ‘legs,’ a term that refers to the droplets formed on the sides of the glass to signify the richness of its alcohol and sugar content. You can’t get a clear read on your wine’s body and viscosity if you have your fingerprints all over your glass.

It’s important to not grip, or ‘cup’ the top of your glass. It’s also crucial to not hold the underside of your wine glass like a bowl. Sometimes wine drinkers will hold a glass of wine like they would a glass of brandy, essentially ‘cupping’ the bowl of the glass in the palm of their hand as they drink it.

Neither of these methods are appropriate wine etiquette because they will leave your fingerprints on the bowl and cause your wine to be lukewarm, impacting the quality. That’s why you should always hold your glass by the stem.

Different Ways to Hold Your Wine Glass

hand holding base of wine glass

Here are a few of the correct modes of holding your wine glass to make sure you look like an expert and enhance your wine drinking experience. These methods include the common technique of holding the stem by the thumb and forefinger while pinching at the base, pinching at the base, or holding the base using the thumb.

As Anderson-Heller demonstrated the correct method of holding a wine glass, she offered this explanation:

“The other variation of holding your glass, other than just by the stem, is to hold it by the base. A lot of people in the wine industry tend to hold the glass by the base of the glass itself. It helps when you swirl the wine to enjoy its natural effect. The reds really sparkle this way. Want to know a neat trick? It’s actually easier to swirl your wine when you hold it by the base.”

Anderson-Heller said the best way to see your wine is to tilt it to the sides to see the legs.

“The legs will tell you a lot about the wine, including the body and viscosity of the wine before you even taste it. If the legs hang (or cling) along the sides of the glass for a really long time, that can mean it’s going to be full of body or has rich sugar content. One of the best ways you can look at your wine is against a white background — that’s how white table cloths came about in restaurant history.”

How to Hold a Stemless Wine Glass

hand holding glass of red wine by the bowl, lynfred winery

For stemless glasses, you should also hold it steadily at the base, as demonstrated by Anderson-Heller. Holding it at the base will reduce impacting the temperature of your wine and smudging your glass for a more pleasurable experience.

Keeping It Classy

hand holding wine glass stem and swirling red wine in the glass

In closing, focusing on the color of your wine is also important. White wine gets darker with age, whereas a red wine gets lighter. Anderson-Heller suggested swirling your wine to smell it, as wine has been in a bottle without any oxygen (that’s why you hear a ‘pop’ when opening a new bottle). Swirling your wine around releases the aroma.

Try to master these easy techniques so you can hold your wine glass properly, without fear of judgment, and without impacting the quality of your wine. Remember that wine tasting is all about having fun and trying something new.

Be sure to share these tips at your next gathering to look like the wine connoisseur you are. Cheers to you!

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