While there are thousands of grape varietals and just about as many options for glasses to match all of these varietals, there are several everyday/popular varietals that most people consume on a regular basis.
Listed below are the most popular options of glasses for the most popular varietals. The framework for each wine glass design was taken mainly from the Riedel Vinum Series of glasses, based on its price range and availability to consumers.
Red Bordeaux (1)
Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc,
Merlot, Red Bordeaux
This glass is perfect for young, full-bodied reds. It rounds out the rough edges and emphasizes the fruit, allowing the balance in the wine to show. The generous size promotes a full bouquet development. The shape and size of the rim directs the flow of the wine to the zone of the tongue that perceives sweetness to de-emphasize the bitter tannin qualities.
White Burgundy, Oaked Chardonnay
The large volume bowl reveals the intensity and the wine’s layers and aroma. The bowl enables the rich bouquet to develop its wonderfully diverse range of aromas. This glass emphasizes the finesse, while minimizing the risk of becoming over-concentrated.
Un-Oaked Chardonnay (3)
Viognier, Un-Oaked Chardonnay, Albariño,
White Bordeaux, Fumé Blanc
Shaped like a small red Bordeaux glass, this glass keeps a more concentrated aspect to maintain a more focused nose, bringing out the nuances of the varietal. The glass promotes a more level balance between fruit flavors and mineral qualities where there is less barrel aging.
Old World Pinot Noir (4)
Red Burgundy, Beaujolais, Champagne
Excels in showing off full-bodied reds with high acidity and moderate to low tannin. The shape directs to the area of the tongue to highlight rich fruit and temper the high acidity. The large bowl captures all the nuances of the wine’s aroma.
New World Pinot Noir (5)
New World Pinot Noir, Barbaresco, Barolo, Nebbiolo
Same big bowl but with a flared rim that still allows the nuances of the varietal to shine. The rim directs the flow of the wine to the front of the palate where the nuances of the fruit flavors are concentrated. This glass also shows Old World Pinot Noir varietals well.
Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Zinfandel, Primitivo
Smaller bowl and rim focuses subtle qualities of fruit and minerality. This glass directs the wine to the tongue to accentuate balance between sweetness and acidity.
Sauvignon Blanc (7)
Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewütraminer
Slightly larger bowl with same rim size as the Riesling glass allows for the herbal and fruit qualities to become more exposed. Wider bowl also allows the wine’s aromas to be more apparent.
Of the above glasses, there are a couple options that can be used as everyday red or white wine glasses. The best all-around red glass is the Bordeaux and the best all-around white glass is the un-oaked Chardonnay. While these glasses do not promote the best qualities of all varietals, they are the most versatile of the ones listed. That being said, the next step for expansion in your personal glass collection would be the new world Pinot Noir followed by the oaked Chardonnay glasses.
Eve O’Neill of The Sweethome, with the help of many wine experts, tested hundreds of glasses for overall performance. They came to the conclusion that the best single everyday glass is the Riedel Ouverture Magnum glass, retailing at $10.