How To Hold A Wine Glass Correctly: Temperature & Etiquette Tips

When you learn how to hold a wine glass properly, your wine drinking experience will improve right away. Wine connoisseurs know that holding a wine glass properly enhances the experience.

How To Hold A Wine Glass Correctly – by the stem.

The guiding focus will be to enhance your wine knowledge and wine-drinking experience by knowing the right way to hold a wine glass. Etiquette tips will be covered to some degree.

Step 1: Know The Proper Temperature For Your Wine

Temperature is an important variable to inform your wine experience. If the wine is too hot or too cold, you will miss out. To keep life simple, there are three things you need to know to achieve the proper temperature for wine at a dinner party, elegant dinner party, or in your home.

Room Temperature

By convention, room temperature is defined as 20 °C (68 °F). Your room temperature may be higher than this level, mainly if you are drinking outside on a patio, balcony, or vineyard. Keep this in mind as you learn the proper way to hold a wine glass.

Serving Temperature For White Wines

The ideal serving temperature for white wines (including Chardonnay chilled) is around 7-10 ̊ C (44- 50 ̊ F). For more detailed guidance, check the wine label or the wine producer’s website. This low serving temperature is one reason why white wines are typically chilled for a more extended period in a refrigerator before serving.

Serving Temperature For Red Wines

Generally speaking, the ideal serving temperature for red wines ranges between 62–68 degrees F (15–20 °C).

By comparing these three temperatures, you can conclude. Wines usually need a cooler temperature than room temperature. That’s why a wine bucket with ice water is a popular choice for some people. Since red wine can tolerate more heat than white wines, the right way to hold a wine glass for red wine is a bit more flexible (even stemless glasses can work).

Step 2: Understand The Interaction Between Body Heat and The Wine Glass

Let’s talk about biology for a moment. According to Web MD, the average skin temperature for an adult ranges between 97 F to 99 F (36-37 °C). That means your hands will be significantly warmer than room temperature and the proper temperature to serve wine.

When you hold a wine glass in your hands, you will increase the temperature of the glass and wine. By minimizing contact with the wine glass, you can slow the pace of heat transfer. That matters because it means you can enjoy the wine at the proper temperature for a more extended period. That’s why the proper way to hold a wine glass is to hold it by the stem (or if you’re using a stemless glass, minimize the amount of time you’re holding the glass).

The opposite is also true. If you end up with too cold wine, holding the glass with both hands will speed up the warming process. The increased direct contact means more heat transfer to the wine glass.

Step 3: How To Hold Your Wine Glass Depends On The Wine Glass

The temperature will be our guiding principle once again. Let’s consider several different wine glasses.

White Wine Glass.

A glass of white wine is usually served below average room temperature. Therefore, the wine will start warming up quickly as it adjusts to the air temperature. To keep the wine at the correct temperature for longer, avoid excess contact between your hands and the wine glass.

Specifically, hold the wine glass by the stem. Holding the wine glass in this way will help avoid unsightly fingerprints on the glass side. Put the wine glass down on the table when possible to keep the wine cool.

Red Wine Glass.

The correct temperature to serve a red wine (including Moscato red wine) is closer to average room temperature, as we covered above. A red wine glass is a type of wine glass designed with a wide opening. This wide opening brings more air to the wine. As a result, the bitterness of the tannins will be moderated.  For wine drinkers at the dinner table, remember that a red wine glass is a bit more forgiving than a white wine glass in terms of body heat.

Tip: Did you end up with red wine at a cold temperature? This happens sometimes. To restore your enjoyment of wine, holding the wine glass in the palms of your hands will warm it up.

Champagne Flute.

Also known as champagne flute glasses, these narrow wine glasses are commonly associated with an elegant wedding party. Happily, you can also use champagne flute glasses to enjoy a bottle of sparkling wine, like Grand Cru Champagne, at any time. Reduce the amount of body heat that transfers to the glass, keep direct contact with the wine glass to a minimum. If you hold the wine glass in your hands all evening, you will end up with lukewarm wine.

Stemless Wine Glasses. Few wine connoisseurs prefer stemless glass. It is simply too easy to warm the wine too quickly.

Step 4: How To Hold A Wine Glass: What To Do With Your Hands and Fingers

Wine enthusiasts are more interested in the content of the glass than etiquette tips. Still, if you enjoy wine at a classy event or a corporate event, there are better ways to do it.

Fundamentally, these techniques are worthwhile for several distinct reasons. First, you will look like you know what you’re doing (i.e., the wine-drinking equivalent of knowing how to tie a necktie properly). Second, your wine experience will be more enjoyable because your wine will be at the correct temperature for a more extended period. Third, you can minimize greasy fingerprints on the wine glass.

Method 1: Thumb and Forefinger

You hold the wine glass with your thumb and forefinger (i.e., index finger). The practical result: only two fingers can act as a conductor of heat.

Method 2: Pinch At The Stem

Similar to the first method, you grip the glass between your thumb and index finger.

how to hold a wine glass

Method 3: Pinch at base

If you have a glass of wine that needs to stay cold, this technique is your friend. By holding the glass from the base, there is less body heat transfer to the glass.  

Method 4: Hold the base

By holding the glass of wine solely through the base, you get the best of both worlds in terms of avoiding greasy fingerprints and body heat.

My recommendation:

Experiment with each of the above techniques. I find that it is most comfortable to use the “pinch at stem” technique. If a specific technique is uncomfortable, try another! A lack of comfort may distract you from enjoying the wine, lead to excessive fingerprints and increase your chance of spilling the wine. No etiquette teacher would wish the embarrassment of spilling wine on you!

What about a stemless wine glass?

Hold stemless glasses from the bottom. The lack of a stem means more body heat transfer than a traditional wine glass.

How To Improve Your Wine Knowledge By Holding The Glass Correctly

So far, we have focused on body heat, avoiding greasy fingerprints, and etiquette tips. Those are the most popular reasons for learning how to hold a wine glass correctly. However, those in the wine industry know a couple of reasons to do this you may not have thought of.

Appreciate The Color

The appearance of wine – color depth and color hues – matter. When you hold the wine glass to the stem or base, you can see the wine without obstruction. That means you can detect the “color of straw” in a white wine more quickly. It is worth taking a few minutes to appreciate the wine color, even if you are focused on affordable wines right now. Holding a glass by the stem means you can get a clear look at the wine without being distracted.

Open Up A Complex Wine

If you enjoy a complex wine at a classy wine gala, your wine journey is about to get more interesting. A glass of aged wine, including full-bodied French wine, may offer more exciting aromas and tastes if you swirl it around. By holding a traditional wine glass by the stem, you can easily tilt the wine glass back and forth. By swirling the wine in the class, you bring in more air contact and enjoy the wine’s delicate flavors further.

Want To Look Smart At A Classy Wine Gala?

Drinking complex wine and reflecting on your experience is a crucial way to develop your wine knowledge. You can also read about collectible wines and how excited wine enthusiasts get about these wines. To further develop your wine knowledge (especially about high-priced collectible wines), I recommend reading “The Billionaire’s Vinegar” – check out my full review of The Billionaire’s Vinegar.

How To Hold A Wine Glass Correctly: Temperature & Etiquette Tips

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