why do you hold a wine glass by the stem

Why Do You Hold a Wine Glass by The Stem? Wine Etiquette 

You can hold a wine glass the way you want, don’t panic. The key feature is that you are drinking wine, that’s already fantastic. But some people can be judging you for this, as these glasses are usually held in a certain way. So, why do you hold a wine glass by the stem?

There are two reasons why you would hole a wine glass by the stem: to prevent smelling your hand while drinking the wine and to prevent warming the wine up too fast. Both of these factors could change the intended flavor profile of the wine.

Let us also discuss some other reasons why you hold a wine glass by the stem, wine drinking etiquette, and why wine glasses are shaped the way they are.

Myths and Fables About Holding a Wine Glass

Different sommeliers have different opinions on this, and everyone tries to push theirs. So we have researched what the top sommeliers think and this is what we concluded.

Avoid Fingerprints on the Glass

Seriously? This is not the case because it is unlikely that you’ll eat some grassy food with your fingers and spoil the glass. But even if you do so, this is not the real reason. Professionals bring up the theory that you cannot see the wine’s actual color. But really, this is not why you hold a wine glass by the steam.

The Picture Is Classier

For some cases, this can be true, as you know, French people make all the wine rules and like everything to be classic. Besides, it is more socially acceptable to hold a wine glass by its steam. Maybe you would remember all the uproar around Olivia Pope’s flack for holding her wine glass by the goblet?

To Feel the Wine

Couple clinking glasses with Spritz in Venice, Italy

The real idea of holding a wine glass by its stem is to avoid smelling your hand while you drink your wine. It is a scientific fact that 90% of taste develops from our sense of smell.

Author Note: Human hands are the most potent communications of bacteria, oils, and scent. The viral part of hand soaps and sanitizers have a powerful aroma that stays on the skin for a long time.

Some sommeliers suggest holding the glass as far away from your nose as possible to have the purest tasting experience during a blind test.

Wine Tasting Etiquette

Holding a wine glass is the start of drinking etiquette. If you are home alone, you can drink wine straight from the bottle. But we cannot do the same in public, especially in fancy banquets. Here are some wine tasting etiquette takeaways for you.

Smell the wine

When you are served your glass of wine and hold it by the steam, it is essential to smell it before sipping. Make a face as you think about it and recall all the wine stories behind the sip.

Drink from the Same Spot

If you wear lipstick, try to drink from the same position you did the first sip. This is to avoid unsightly mouth marks on your wine glass.

Opening Secrets

If you are the one to serve the wine, then be careful from the start. When opening a wine bottle, try to do it quietly, like a ninja turtle.

We suggest you avoid the modern wine opening gadgets as they spoil the cork and all the bohemian pictures in the room. Take a tip from sommeliers and hone your skills using the classic wine key.

It’s easy to use, fits in your pocket, and will never go out of style. It is also better and more acceptable to use anything under your nose, like a lighter, than using modern technologies for wine.

Pouring the Wine

Now when you have the bottle opened, it’s time to pour it into the glasses. First of all, hold the bottle towards the base; this way, you can easily make eye contact with the person you are pouring the wine for. You can also turn the bottle quickly when finished running, so the drops would not fall to the table or the floor.

Make sure you fill the glass less than halfway. This will help the wine breathe, and people around you will understand that you are pretty good at this. Also, take a note to pour yourself as much as you did for the person(s) you drink with.

Before running the second glass for yourself, don’t forget to suggest the same to the others in the room. Always be polite, which is the best etiquette.

Food Suggestions


If you want to throw a dinner party at your house, you choose the meal first and then match your wine with the food. And make sure you put both red and white wines on the table as you cannot make people drink the wine you prefer with a certain kind of food. Always leave room for choice.

Make a Toast

Author Note: This fact may be surprising, but celebrating with wine often involves a toast, and this is a beautiful tradition that became an etiquette rule. The person suggesting a toast can sit or stand; this doesn’t matter.

He/she lifts the Glass and speaks his/her mind. If you are not the one who suggests the toast, you can always add some words after the toast. Then people around the table should lift their glasses and take the first sip. If you want to clink your glass with some guests, make sure you do it gently and always look into the eyes of that person.

The Glasses Matter

Have you ever questioned yourself why wine glasses are coming in specific shapes? Here is why. The glasses usually consist of three parts: a bowl, a stem, and a leg. The main factors driving the bowl egg are the emission of bouquets and odors’ collection: the lip.

When the alcohol evaporates on the surface of the wine, the aromas are released. The space between the lips of the wine glass is where the aromas gather. In general, red wines have larger pots to enhance their aromas. White wines have smaller banks to maintain their temperature. The glass lip is usually relatively thin, so it stays free: does not affect the drinker’s experience.

Red Wine Glasses

Standard Red Wine Glass

The standard red wine glass is an excellent glass for medium to full-bodied red wines with spicy notes and high alcohol.

Spice is softened because flavors hit your tongue more progressively from the smaller opening. Try wines like Zinfandel, Malbec, Syrah (Shiraz), and Petite Sirah with this glass.

Large Bordeaux Glass

This glass shape is best for bolder wines, and it serves the wine aroma correctly. Also, wider openings help the wine taste smoother and make the drinking more comfortable. And last but not least, it lets ethanol diffuse so the alcohol taste isn’t too strong.

Aroma Collector Bourgogne Glass

We call this glass alternatively the Pinot Noir glass. The large round bowl helps collect all the aromas. These glasses are an excellent choice for lighter, more delicate red wines with subtle fragrances.

White Wine Glasses

Swirling glass of rose wine at wine tasting. Concept of rose wine

White wines are the most delicate drinks on earth. So you cannot serve them in something you found in the cupboard. It would be best if you consider fitting them into smaller bowled glasses. Choosing a glass is not only a matter of eye-catching, but it also helps to;

  • Conserve floral aromas
  • Keep cooler temperature
  • Manifest more acidity in wine
  • Delivers more bouquets (even at cooler temperatures) due to closeness to the nose

You’ll notice that full-bodied white wines like oak-aged Chardonnay, Viognier, White Rioja, and orange wines are better with a larger bowl.

The larger bowl, initially introduced by Riedel as a “Montrachet” glass, better emphasizes a creamy texture because of the wider mouth.

Parting Toast

In ancient times people drank wine with wooden cups. The upper-class did it with rugged clay cups. That didn’t stop them from enjoying wine. But you see that there still was a difference between upper-class aristocratic people and ordinary mortal rustic people. So anyway, there is a difference in which glass is chosen to serve the wine.

With time, people realized it is essential to have the right choice in wine glasses.

Author Note: We mentioned at the start of the article that the most important fact is to drink wine. But we take wine very seriously and may say that it would be best if you follow the rules here. Besides, it’s not only to show off but this is the right way to feel the wine.

The wine itself is a ritual․You don’t celebrate your birthday with a cookie but with a proper birthday cake. The same applies to wine drinking. It’s a celebration, a party.

If you cherish the wine as much as we do, choose the right glass and hold a wine glass by the stem. We hope you enjoyed this article on why do you hold a wine glass by the stem. Cheers!

To living a full-bodied life,


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