Which Glass to Use for Which Drink and Why

By Brent Rose on at

You're going to have some friends over for a cocktail housewarming party. No problem, you think to yourself, I'll just pick up some glassware on my way home. You get to the shop, and panic sets in. It's an absurd, transparent cornucopia of tumblers and flutes and who knows what else, in every conceivable shape and size. You weren't prepared. Pay attention now, and you will be.

For a breakdown on different glasses, we headed over to Franny's in New York and spoke to Jillian, one of their bartenders, who has been featured in the restaurant's cookbooks. In the video above, she gives us the skinny on the most commonly used glasses, but here's a basic summary for those who are stuck at work and can't click play.

Which Glass to Use for Which Drink and Why


Standard Wine Glass

Obviously, there are hundreds of variations within this group, but your standard wine glass has a stem. Holding the glass by the stem transfers less heat to the wine, so your hand isn't warming it up as fast. Aroma is one of the most important elements with wine, which is why your wine glass should have a large opening. If you can't fit your nose in it while you're drinking, you need yourself some new glasses.

Yes there are different size wine glasses. Basic rule of thumb: broader openings for reds, narrower for whites. That should get you through most situations just fine.

Image credit: Shutterstock/ gresei

Which Glass to Use for Which Drink and Why


Tumbler Glass

This is often considered an all-purpose glass. At Franny's they use it for their table wine. That wine comes in temperature controlled, and because it's served at a table, it will spend more time sitting there than it will in your hand, so the stem isn't necessary for heat control.Technically, a tumbler is any flat-bottomed glass; we get into more specific variations below. The specific glass shown here, though, is wide enough for your nose to take in the aromatics of your drink (probably wine), it's just not curved around to trap in the vapors like a standard wine glass.

Image credit: Shutterstock/violetkaipa

Which Glass to Use for Which Drink and Why


Martini Glass

Again, we've got stemware here to control the temperature of your alcohol. Why? Because drinks served in this glass will not have ice in them. They will be shaken or stirred with ice first, and then strained into it. That's what ordering a drink "up" means. It's chilled and up in that tall glass (don't confuse it with "neat"). The cone shape serves to help maintain temperature, keep the ingredients pushed together (olives, spirits of different specific gravities, etc), and it provides a nice large surface area for the aroma, since you're typically drinking gin (or a Manhattan) and aroma is 90 per cent of flavour.Image credit: Shutterstock/Yuri Samsonov

Which Glass to Use for Which Drink and Why



Mainly for champagne and other sparkling wines, the goal is to make the bubble last for as long as possible. There's often a bead etched at the bottom in an attempt to give the bubbles a single point of nucleation. Aroma isn't asimportant with these wines as they would be a red wine, so the opening is smaller in an attempt to minimise the exposure to air.Image credit: Shutterstock/Evgeny Karandaev

Which Glass to Use for Which Drink and Why


Rocks Glass (a.k.a. the Old Fashioned Glass)

Want your drink on the rocks? This is probably the glass you want. It's especially good for cocktails. The glass can accommodate large cubes of ice and they're still plenty of room to stir within the glass. It's also got a nice big opening so you can really smell the aromatics in your cocktail.Image credit: Shutterstock/Alexey Lysenko

Which Glass to Use for Which Drink and Why


Collins Glass

Typically for fizzes or collins drinks, this glass is similar to the flute in that it promotes bubble retention (they often have some fizzy water in them). They're still big enough to accommodate ice, so you'll often see drinks served in these that are a little bit sweeter but where aromatics aren't quite as important, like a mojito.Image credit: Shutterstock/objectsforall

Which Glass to Use for Which Drink and Why


Dessert Wine Glass

These guys are petite, because the dessert wine is typically very sweet and you don't want a lot of it. Again, it's stemware to keep the temperature controlled. It has a smaller opening because sweetness is perceived more on the tongue than in the nose, so aroma isn't as important.Image credit: Shutterstock/Evgeny Karandaev

Which Glass to Use for Which Drink and Why


Grappa Glass

Small, because that stuff will knock you on your arse. Stemware once again to keep it cool, and it also has a bulb shape at the bottom because spheres are very good at maintaining temperature. From there it flares upward to give you a little bit of that aroma.Naturally, there are tons of other glasses. Shot glasses for went you want shots, margarita glasses for margaritas, dram glasses for sipping Scotch, snifters for when you want to snift things. The list goes on and on, but these are the basics that will help you pretend you're classy. Yeah, you can drink any of these things out of a coffee mug, but having the right tool for the job generally adds to the experience.

Image credit: Shutterstock/Oliver Hoffmann

Big thank you to Jillian and to Franny's in Brooklyn for making this happen. Very tasty stuff happening over there.