Having nice glassware is something for grown-ups because you get to impress friends and show off and not look like a child serving drinks in red Solo cups. This is a small fraction of the importance of glassware. If you choose to server your wine, beer and sweet tea in the same generic tall glass, you’re missing out on more than just appearances. Sure, a variety of glassware looks nice but there are aspects beyond this that are important to know about for any kind of alcoholic drink.

For centuries, wine lovers have known glassware matters but often for the wrong reasons. The standard response of, “it allows the wine to open up and you need a big glass for reds and a skinny for champagne and something in the middle for white wines” is correct but still a far reach from what’s really going on. The same does for beer but it’s certainly less important. Now, I say this carefully as most readers here are beer lovers. For a connoisseur of liquor, wine and beer, it’s not uncommon go have over 20 different types of glassware. Personally, here is the glassware in my home and many of these I have 2-4 of each type for times when I’m hosting parties.

Beer:

  1. Mikasa Tulip
  2. Duvel Tulip
  3. Ommegang Stange
  4. Alchemist Becher
  5. Orval Chalice
  6. Chimay Chalice
  7. Pint Glass
  8. Riedel / Sam Adams Snifter
  9. Champagne Flute
  10. Hill Farmstead bulb
  11. Stein
  12. Mikasa Pilsner
  13. Mikasa Weizen

Wine:

  1. Mikasa Cabernet Bulb
  2. Riedel Pinot Grigio / Chardonay Bulb
  3. Mikasa Champagne Flute
  4. Riedel Bordeaux Sommeliers Grand Cru

Liquor:

  1. Martini
  2. Lowball
  3. Highball
  4. Half bulb
  5. Shot glasses (1oz and 2oz)
  6. Margarita
  7. Cosmopolitan
  8. Collins

It’s a lot of glassware so don’t feel intimidated. Most home bars are fine if they have 1/3 of these. The issue is, you invite friends over and suddenly you’re realizing you need 4 of each glass and then there are glasses everywhere and it looks like you have a drinking problem but we’re getting sidetracked. How does these different glasses actually improve the drink? When it comes to liquor, they don’t. A lot is style and mostly in relation to the serving size of the drink. Fruity tropical drinks will be served in a highball 12-16 ounce glass. A martini glass appears large but is actually under 5 ounces. Serving a martini in a high ball glass would make the consumer feel cheated because there’s only a one third of the glass being used. Most 2-part drinks (Vodka, Cranberry) come in a low-ball glass which is 6 ounces. Basically, liquor glasses are pointless.

Wine and beer truly differ. Have you ever poured a beer intended for a tulip glass into a pint glass? Aside from the big difference in scent, the 3-4 finger head is so large that the pint glass makes the beer undrinkable for a while. A tulip glass on the other hand, is curved to where that large head doesn’t spill over the hump when you drink. You can drink a big-headed beer almost immediately. Humps are good for bigger beers. This is a simplification but an example most of us will understand. A champagne glass is thin and tall. Fruity carbonated beers and very bubbly champagne benefits because the carbonation has less area to dissipate. The beer stays more bubbly for longer.

I’m linking below to a few resources I think will be good. Some of these will take some time to review but I have used all of these in the past and believe you’ll benefit from going through them.

YouTube:

The Right Wine Glass

Riedel Wine Glass Tasting with Maximilian Riedel

Proper wine glasses with Maximilian Riedel

Beer Glasses 101

TheFoamingHead – Beer Glass Discussion

How to clean Beer Glasses

Articles:

Glassware for Beer

Choosing Wine Glasses