Beer? Champagne? Port? There’s a glass for that

Regardless of whether you sip wine, beer or spirits, most folks use a glass of some sort. Following are the most popular styles for all your favourite drinks.

Most wine lovers will use a glass with a stem. Sure, there are stemless glasses out there that are easy to hold and clean, but your hand infringes on the viewing area and the heat from your hand warms up the wine too quickly.

Whites and rosés often tend to be sipped out of tulip-shaped glasses that are smaller and have a smaller barrel than red wine glasses. The smaller surface area tends to slow down the liquid’s temperature rise.

Red wine is usually served in a larger glass with a larger bowl to increase surface area and allow for aeration.

For bubbly, a flute should be used. The elongated thinner barrel with less surface area retains the bubbles the best.

If you enjoy fortified wine like port and sherry then producers of both would recommend using a “dock” and “copeta” glass, respectively. Both are small and reflect the fact that fortified wines have more alcohol so you probably aren’t going to consume as much. (Personally, I use a regular white wine glass for both, just pouring a small amount.)

When it comes to beer, it’s a different story entirely. Many bars and pubs use a “shaker” or “American pint.” This cylindrical-shaped glass usually holds about 16 ounces. It’s wider at the top and is meant for brown ales and lagers. A good all-purpose glass that’s inexpensive, it isn’t all that great for the complexity of craft brews.

The British version of this glass is the “imperial pint.” Holding 20 ounces, it has a slight ridge toward the top and is great for English ales.

The tall, tapered lines of a “pilsner” glass is great for German-style beers and, of course, pilsner, allowing for a nice foamy head.

Like a pilsner glass, the “wheat beer” or “weizen” glass is thinner, enabling more aromatics and a larger head to form on the surface.

Of course, there are always mugs and steins for any brew with robust, hearty flavours. They’re wide and thick, insulating your brew, and the handles keep it from warming up. Great for stouts, porters, dark and red ales, etc.!

Spirit aficionados take note: if you like Cognac, Armagnac or any other brandy-type imbibe, then a “snifter” will do the job. It’s short-stemmed, with a balloon barrel narrowing somewhat at the top, allowing for swirling and releasing aromas that get focused at the top toward your nose. Shot glasses for any spirit are great for chasers.

For cocktails, there are two types of glasses. “Lowballs” are short, squat glasses that work well for boozy drinks or any spirit on the rocks that average 2 to 4 ounces each.

“Highballs” are just the thing for those carbonated sippers because they are tall and slender, helping to maintain the fizz – ideal for any spirit/soda combination!

Many bars will use a “coupe.” This type of glass that resembles an inverted half-moon with a stem was popular many years ago for bubbly, but today houses cocktails like a Manhattan, sidecar or daiquiri.

A final word on glassware! Make sure your choice of container is made of glass. No plastic, please. Ensure they are impeccably clean and free of residual detergent and use all glassware at room temperature. Don’t chill, frost or warm them up. Happy sipping!


Edward Finstein is a wine writer, award-winning author, TV and radio host, educator, judge

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