Kitchen Gear

Everything you need to know about glassware

We know that you know in the back of your mind that there are different types of glasses. You have seen them. You have been served your favourite drinks in them. You might even be able to name a couple of them, but you would most likely admit that you do not know the first thing about them. It is our mission to tell you all you need to know about glassware and we have prepared a basic list of what a person who loves to entertain should know.

Mostly, glassware is divided in 4 categories: stemware, tumblers, beer glasses and drinkware. We will focus on the first three as the fourth category is basically cups and mugs.


You will recognize this category of glasses because these glasses (whatever the shape) stand on stems above a base. The stem is intended to allow the drinker to hold the glass without affecting the temperature of the drink.

The most popular are:

Wine Glasses:

Red and white wine glasses are different by their stem length, bowl width and rim width. There is a reason for that. Red wine enhances its flavour when it gets in contact with air, through a process called oxidation. The wider bowl allows you to get more air into the drink when swirling the content inside and its wider rim allows you to appreciate the aromas that develop after the wine releases its particular bouquet. The stem is shorter, as the red wine is served at room temperature and its characteristics do not get affected by holding the bowl with your hand. White wine, on the other hand, does not benefit from exposure to air, therefore a wider bowl and rim are not necessary. Instead, white wine requires a longer stem as this type of wine is better enjoyed chilled. The long stem then becomes crucial to ensure that you don’t warm the content by taking it by the bowl. Something to bear in mind: never grab a white wine glass by the bowl.

Champagne Flutes:

This type of glass is ideal for sparkling wine. The tall and narrow bowl is intended to keep the natural carbonation of the drink, while the long stem prevents you to heat the content, as with white wines, sparkling wines are also better served chilled. Visually, the long bowl creates a nice roadshow for the bubbles.

Cocktail Glasses:

These glasses have an inverted cone bowl and, depending on the drink they hold, they have a flat or a fully conic bottom. As cocktails are always made of a combination of liquors, spices and juices, their particular shape allows for the ingredients to remain mixed. Cocktails are also normally served chilled; therefore, the stem becomes practical to keep the heat from your hand away from the content of the bowl. The wide mouth allows the drinker to enjoy the flavors and aromas derived from the mix of liquors and spices and fruits.


These are very special glasses. Created normally with thin, fine glass with a wide bottom and a relatively narrow top. This shape allows the liquid to release its bouquet, while capturing it, so you can enjoy it all in every single sip. These glasses have a small stem, so you can hold the glass and add to the drinking experience of a fine brandy or cognac.


This category describes all those glasses that are flavour-bottomed. The most popular ones are:

Collins Glasses:

Used for a tall mixed drink, this glass is tall and narrow and holds between 300 and 410 ml. Some of the cocktails you can serve in this type of glass are: Collins, Long Island Ice Tea, Singapore Sling, Tom Collins, Black Velvet, Screwdriver, Horse’s Neck, Sex on the Beach, Tequila Sunrise, Cuba Libre.

Highball Glasses:

This glass is also a tall one, with thick walls, and it is also used for mixed drinks, but is wider than the Collins glass. Cocktails you can serve in this type of glass are: Mojito, Bloody Mary, Mint Julep, Caipirinha, and Gin and Tonic.

Lowball or Old Fashioned Glasses:

Also called rocks glass, this is a short tumbler used for serving alcoholic beverages with ice in them. Old Fashioned glasses (used to serve the old fashioned cocktail) typically have a wide brim and a thick base, so that the non-liquid ingredients of a cocktail can be mashed using a muddler before the main liquid ingredients are added. Use this glass for Whiskey, Black Russians, White Russian, French Connection, God Mother, God Father, Americano, Negroni, Old Fashioned, Sazerac, or Whiskey Sour.

Shot Glasses:

This is a small glass designed to hold or measure spirits or liquor. Normally the drink is supposed to be drank straight from the glass or it can be also used to measure the liquor to be put in some cocktails. It holds 40 to 60 ml.

Beer Glasses

Beer glassware is very diverse. Many glasses are created in a particular way to help enhance the particular characteristics of a beer (e.g. long glasses are better able to preserve the carbonation and enhance the aroma). If the glass has a stem they can be long or short, for the same reasons they are used for wine. Depending on the country, you will have different measures and styles.

Essentials for a dinner party

Don’t expect to have the assortment of a bar, but to allow you to have a decent party and to be able to serve cocktails and other drinks drinks as intended it is always a good idea to own the following types of glasses:

  • Red and white wine glasses
  • Highball glasses: This is a great choice as you can use it for ice tea, juices, beer, water and cocktails served in long glasses
  • Lowball glasses. Get modern, thin glasses, so you can use them for water, whiskey, and some cocktails.
  • Cocktail glasses: Cocktails can be served in lowball glasses but for some mixes, cocktail glasses are better in preventing the ingredients from separating. So it is not a bad idea to own a set of these, especially if you love certain cocktails or martinis.