Lovely to look at and delightful to hold, the proper wine glass transforms a humble table wine into a memorable experience. There are a wide variety of wine glass sizes, each of which are suited to a different type of wine. The size of the glass varies among manufacturers and brands, but there are some general rules that make pairing the ideal wine with the correct glass size much easier.
The bowl of the wine glass is the cup that holds the wine when it's poured. The ideally sized bowl should hold a full serving of wine and be a little less than half full. This will allow plenty of space for the wine to aerate, as well as room for swirling before sipping. Wine servings may vary, but for an 236ml serving of wine you will want a sixteen ounce glass. If you find wine glasses with a short stem and a small bowl, then you are looking at a glass that is meant to serve concentrated wines like port and dessert wines, which are meant to be sipped in small amounts. Wide, round "balloon" bowls are usually for red wines, while narrow, tapered "tulip" bowls are for white and sparkling wines.
The length of the wine glass stem gives you clues as to what wine belongs in the glass. A tall, slender stem means that the wine should be served cold. The long stem will give fingers a place to grasp the wine without heating the contents. This is why champagne flutes are balanced atop tall, spindly stems. Typically, a long stem indicates that the glass is designed for white wines that are best served cold, like chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. Short stems and glasses with no stems are suited to a wine that will benefit from a little warmth from the hands. Red wines like Chianti and merlot benefit from short stemmed or stemless glasses.
For professional wine tastings, there is a standard glass that adheres to specific dimensions. The International Organization for Standardization defines the standard wine tasting glass as a glass just shy of 6 inches in height, with a shorter stem and a long, narrow, tulip-shaped bowl. The stem should be approximately 2 inches high and the bowl should measure approximately 4 inches from the bottom of the bowl to the rim. At its widest, the bowl should be approximately 2.5 inches around. There are several sizes of ISO glasses, both larger and smaller, that follow these proportions.
Old Versus New
Wine glass sizes have got larger over the course of the years. Antique glasses may hold 113 to 170gr of wine, but modern glasses may hold twice that much. Glasses designed for red wine historically measured 255gr, while contemporary red wine glasses hold up to 397gr. Antique red wine glasses held 227gr of wine, and contemporary red wine glasses hold approximately twelve ounces of liquid. The rule of pouring to slightly under the halfway mark still applies, so while a modern red wine glass may hold 397gr, the ideal serving is 198gr.