How to Hold a Wine Glass

Part of offering a proper wine service at your bar or restaurant is knowing how to hold a wine glass. Holding a wine glass correctly makes you appear professional and helps you serve wine at the right temperature. Whether you're supplying or enjoying the wine, we explain how to hold different types of wine glasses so you can participate in holiday wine pairings without social anxiety. Once you’ve mastered the proper way to hold a wine glass, check out our wine-drinking tips so you can swirl wine like a pro and flawlessly clink wine glasses after a toast.

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Proper Way to Hold a Wine Glass

Woman in a vineyard during sunset holds a wine glass by its stem to take a sip

The proper way to hold a wine glass is by its stem. This protects the temperature of the wine. Holding a wine glass by its bowl warms its contents.

Wine Glass Parts

Familiarize yourself with the parts of a wine glass so you can follow our guide to holding a wine glass.

  • Rim - perimeter of the bowl where your lips contact the glass
  • Bowl - contains the wine, sizes vary
  • Stem - long, thin piece linking the base to the bowl
  • Base - flat, circular piece at the bottom of the stem that provides stability

How to Hold a Stemmed Wine Glass

There are 3 proper ways to hold a stemmed wine glass:

  1. Pinch the stem between your thumb and index finger where it meets the base. Rest the bottom of the base on your folded middle finger.
  2. Use your thumb as a lever and anchor the base to your folded index finger.
  3. Pinch the stem of the glass between your thumb and index. Let your other fingers rest naturally. To hold a wine glass elegantly, follow the previous steps and then stick out your pinky finger.

How to Hold a Stemless Wine Glass

Hold a stemless wine glass towards the base of its bowl. To minimize heat transfer, use only your thumb, index, and middle fingers to grip the glass. If the glass feels like it may slip, curl your ring and pinky fingers beneath your middle finger to provide stability. Stemless wine glasses offer greater stability than stemmed wine glasses, preventing spills and breakage at cocktail parties and catered events. However, they’re unideal for tasting rooms because most wines are served below room temperature. Holding the base of a stemless wine glass transfers heat from the hand to the bowl and warms the wine.

How to Hold Red Wine Glass vs White

The best practices for holding a wine glass are the same for both red and white wine. However, the need for holding a wine glass by its stem is greater for white wine, since sommeliers serve it chilled. We break down the distinctions between how you should hold a red vs white wine glass below.

How to Hold a Red Wine Glass

The best way to hold a red wine glass is by its stem. This preserves its ideal serving temperature. If you’re drinking red wine on a winterized patio space, hold the red wine glass by its bowl to keep it from chilling.

How to Hold a White Wine Glass

Since white wine is chilled, serve it in a stemmed wine glass and hold the glass by its stem. Holding a white wine glass by its stem preserves its serving temperature.

How to Drink Wine

Pick one spot on the wine glass to drink from for the entire evening. This keeps your glass cleaner, its aromas fresher, and prevents unsightly lip marks from encircling the rim.

How to Carry Multiple Wine Glasses

Server on a vineyard patio carrying multiple wine glasses on a tray

To provide a proper wine service, your wait staff will need to transport multiple wine glasses to tables. The safest way to carry multiple wine glasses is with non-skid trays or a specialized wine glass tray. If you don’t have a tray, follow the steps below to carry multiple wine glasses without smudging their bowls, risking breakage, or contaminating their rims.

  1. Turn your hand palm-side up.
  2. Add the wine glasses between your fingers. Rest the bases of the glasses on your palm and allow their bowls to hang upside down beneath your hand.
  3. Layer the glass bases so they touch your fingers or overlap with the other bases. You can safely transport up to four glasses this way.

How Do You Toast Wine Glasses?

Many formal events will include a toast where you must clink your wine glass against other guests’ glasses. Crystal glasses are prone to shattering if you don't clink them properly. Even when using sturdier glasses, toasting wine glasses can lead to spills, breakage, and germ transfer. Mitigate these concerns by using the bell-to-bell method to toast with wine glasses.

What Is the Bell-To-Bell Method?

The bell-to-bell method is a safe and resonant way to clink wine glasses. To perform the bell-to-bell method, clink the big round part of your wine glass (aka its “bell”) to the bell of your clinking partner’s wine glass. When the wine glass bells make contact, they will release an enduring ring. Hand or machine-blown crystal glass will deliver the greatest resonance. Heavy crystal glasses and thicker rolled-lip glasses do not offer the same enduring ring.

How to Swirl Wine

a person's hand grips a wineglass by its stem to swirl it on a wooden table

Knowing how to grab a wine glass to swirl wine is essential to running a wine-tasting room. Follow the steps below to learn how to swirl wine glasses properly. Start by practicing swirling wine atop a table to build muscle memory. Once you've mastered the technique, you'll be ready to swirl the wine in the air. We've outlined the best way to hold a wine glass for swirling below.

  1. Set the wine glass on a flat surface.
  2. Pinch the stem where it meets the base between your thumb and index finger.
  3. Draw small circles on the table with the glass.
  4. The contents of the glass will swirl; continue the process for approximately 20-30 seconds.

Why Do You Swirl Wine?

Swirling wine releases its aromas and improves its flavor.

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If you're training to become a bartender, use our guide to learn how to hold wine glasses properly. By following best practices, you can prevent wine glasses from contaminating each other during a toast or breaking during transport. If you're trying to teach patrons how to swirl their wine, teach them the proper way to hold a wine glass to swirl wine with our guide.

Posted in: Bars & Breweries|By Corrinn McCauley
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