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How To Hold A Wine Glass | Top 3 Tips

By
Brad Johnson
Table of Contents

Wine is the perfect drink to include with a luxurious dinner or a celebratory meal. Whether you're enjoying a sumptuous red, a crisp white, or a bubbly rosé, you can find a great wine pairing with hundreds of foods.

To get the most out of your wine, you want to hold your glass the way the pros do. If this seems a little pretentious, you'll be surprised to find out how useful proper technique is!

How you hold a wine glass affects the drink's wine oxidation, and by extension, its taste. Keep reading to learn techniques for how to hold a wine glass.

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Proper Way To Hold A Wine Glass

To understand the proper way to hold a wine glass, first, you need a glass that suits your style. Wine glasses come in several shapes and sizes. Some are round, some are short, and some are tall and slender.

For example, a stemless glass is a different shape than a full-sized glass. The best shape is the one that accommodates your hand and wrist. You may need to experiment with a few wine glass shapes before you find one that works for you. 

How To Hold A Stemmed Wine Glass

The general rule for holding a stemmed wine glass is by pinching the stem between your thumb and forefingers. First, place your thumb near the middle of the stem, facing you. Next, place your index finger, middle finger, and ring finger on the other side of the stem and grasp as such. You can rest your pinkie against the base of the glass for additional stability. 

The stemmed holding technique accomplishes a few things. One, it keeps the wine as cool as possible. The human body naturally hovers around 98.6 degrees, but most wine is best served around 65 degrees (room temperature). White and rosé wine should be kept a little cooler, e.g. between 40 and 65 degrees.

This is one reason wine storage temperature is so cool. Colder temperatures allow the subtle flavors and sugar in wine to be at the right levels, separate easily, rather than being muddled together in a warm environment. 

Two, it offers widespread stability in holding the glass and makes it easy to set down again. Holding a wine glass by the base makes it much harder to control, and holding it underhand by the bowl warms it up too quickly.

However, it’s more acceptable to hold a red wine by the bowl, as reds tend to be consumed at slightly higher average temperatures. Overall, the stem holding technique offers a balance between temperature, control, and convenience. 

Three, it allows you to swirl your wine, especially if you aren’t seated. Wine swirling is essential to releasing the hundreds of aromas that are unique to any wine. In order to swirl your glass without sitting at a table, you need a firm yet nimble grasp, and stem holding is the way to go. 

How To Hold A Stemless Wine Glass

If you’re drinking from a stemless wine glass, you need a different approach. First, test your grip while the glass is still sitting on the table. You want to make sure the glass isn’t too large for the palm of your hand or particular grip. Place your dominant hand around the side of the glass and get a feel for where you’d naturally pick it up.

Second, grasp the glass between the middle and the bottom. You don’t want your hand to be too close to the bottom because that will warm the wine too fast. However, you also don’t want it too high on the glass, which will risk the glass slipping out of your hand. Practice your grip a few times until you get a good feel for it. 

A Note On Serving

If you’re a server at a bar or restaurant, it’s important to remember your guests pay attention to these kinds of details. Whenever possible, serve white and rosé wine in a chilled glass. This doesn’t apply to reds or learning what is cooking wine.

Chilled glasses keep the wine colder longer and demonstrates to your customers how much you know about the hospitality industry. Remember to hold wine glasses at the base or the stem when pouring wine as well. 

Customers expect their drinks to be handled with care, and going the extra mile always keeps people happy. You can save time by using wine glasses with pour lines and having a standard wine pour, too.

As a bar or restaurant owner, though, wine serving is probably the least of your worries. Chances are you’re concerned with wine storage cabinets, wine inventory, and wine bottle price as well. How do you coordinate all these details efficiently? With the help of BinWise, our bar inventory software

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How To Hold A Wine Glass Elegantly

Wine is a beverage associated with sophistication and high class, including in different types of marketplaces that engage in online wine sales. If you’ve bought wine online, it’s useful to know how to hold a wine glass elegantly once your package shows up.

There are two ways you can do so: by the stem with a middle grip, and by the base with a bottom grip. Holding your wine glass by the stem is best for events where you’re doing a lot of standing, and holding it by the base is convenient when seated. The latter is a good technique when learning how to decant wine, as well.

While walking around at a party and speaking with guests, you’ll need a way to hold your glass for hours at a time. Pinching the stem keeps your glass stable without exerting too much energy.

If you’re seated at a table, there are other grasping techniques for optimal results. To keep your wine fresh while holding it elegantly, simply grasp the stem’s base between your thumb and pointer finger. 

No matter what your preferred grip is, make sure to keep your glass at a slight angle when sipping. This prevents wine from rushing out of your glass and burning your palate. Since a certain level of wine alcohol content is to be expected, too much at one time can remove the chance to taste subtler flavors. 

How Not To Hold A Wine Glass

There are a couple techniques to be aware of when learning how not to hold a wine glass. One is holding the glass by the bowl, and the other is gripping it near the rim (like how some hold different wine bottle sizes). 

Holding your wine underhand by the bowl of the glass is improper because A) your hand will prematurely warm the wine and B) it can appear uncouth. If it’s your first time drinking wine at a formal event, you may get a few strange looks or chuckles, because most people grasp their wine glass by the stem. 

Grasping your wine glass near the rim, in the same way you would a plastic cup, is also inadvisable. One, it’s harder to control the amount of wine per taste. Wine is a drink that you want to consume a sip at a time, in order to experience the complete flavor makeup of that vintage.

Two, it will look uncultured and possibly immature to those around you. Simply grabbing the top of a wine glass and swigging away may cause people to think you don’t appreciate the beverage, whether it’s aged wine or newer.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Hold A Wine Glass

If you’ve never consumed wine before, chances are you’ve picked up at least a little bit of wine lingo and etiquette. Between swirling wine, using a wine aerator, and meal pairing, there’s a lot to be aware of. 

Knowing how to hold a wine glass correctly is another social norm. If you haven’t learned the basics yet, take a look at these common questions and our answers below: 

What is the proper way to hold a wine glass?

The proper way to hold a wine glass is by grasping the lower half of the stem between your thumb and forefingers. This keeps your drink stable, allows you to sip easily, and looks polished in social settings. 

You can also pinch the bottom of the glass, where the stem meets the base. This is great for swirling wine at a table and taking light sips now and then. 

How does a woman hold a wine glass?

Women usually hold wine glasses the same ways men do, i.e. pinching the stem between one’s thumb and middle fingertips. There is no “correct” way for women or men to hold a wine glass; only what’s preferred by the person drinking the wine. 

Some people believe women hold wine glasses differently based on sociocultural norms, but there is no substantive basis for this. Since a wine glass is a functional object and not used based on gender differences, you can hold a wine glass however you like. 

Why should you hold a wine glass by the stem?

Holding a wine glass by the stem is best because it stabilizes your drink, provides maximum sipping control, and looks great. It’s also one of the most intuitive ways to grasp a wine glass. 

Using the stem grip keeps your wine at a lower temperature, as well. Wine is often served cool because it brings out the hints of flavor that each individual wine is based on. Blackberries, plums, cherries, strawberries, and peaches are examples of fruits used in wine varietals.

When wine is served warm, the subtle flavors mix together and become less noticeable. Therefore, holding glasses by the stem keeps the temperature the same longer.

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Great Wine Is Within Your Grasp

Learning how to hold a wine glass isn’t a formal skill or one that requires training, but is nonetheless useful to have. By holding your glass for an optimal experience, you’ll look cultured and knowledgeable while still enjoying a great drink.