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5 Proper Ways to Hold a Wine Glass (Stem & Stemless)


There seem to be just as many types of wine glasses as there are different types of wine: In other words a lot! If you have ever been to a wine tasting or a fancy restaurant, you may have noticed people tend to hold their wine in different ways. But what is the proper way to hold a wine glass?

Here are 5 proper ways to hold a wine glass, depending on whether it has a stem, or is stemless:

  1. Hold a stemmed glass by the base.
  2. Hold the glass by the bottom of the stem. 
  3. Hold the glass by the top of the stem.
  4. Hold a stemless glass by the base.
  5. Hold a stemless glass by the bowl.

This article will tell you about these different techniques and which one you should use depending on the glass you are holding and the wine you are drinking.

No matter how you grip the glass, be careful not to transfer too much heat from your hand to the wine, so keep reading.

1. Hold a Stemmed Glass by the Base

If you are using a stemmed glass, you can’t go wrong with holding the glass by the base or the stem. 

Holding a glass of wine by the base of the stem will not only make you look classy, but it is one of the best ways to hold a glass of wine. Pinch the foot with your thumb on top and rest your fingers underneath.

To get a better visual of what I mean, here is a video by winemaker Julien Miquel showing this technique:

Glasses To Hold by the Base

You may be thinking that holding a glass by the very base could be risky. 

What if the glass topples over, or what if it falls from your pinch? These are all valid concerns. There are specific glasses that this style is better for than others.

When holding a glass by the base, you will want to ensure you aren’t carrying a top-heavy glass. It is best to hold glasses that are tall and skinny by the foot to avoid spilling.

Here are a few examples of glasses that are good for this technique (all links Amazon):

Best Wines To Drink With “By The Base” Wine Glass Holding Technique

Because this technique is best for glasses that are tall and thin, you’ll want to use this technique with sparkling wines and other light-bodied white wines. These glasses are designed to balance the acidity and preserve the floral aromas and lighter notes of white wine. 

They are also best for wine consumed at cooler temperatures.

2. Hold a Glass by the Bottom of the Stem

Another popular way to hold a wine glass is by the bottom of the stem. With this technique, you will pinch the stem just above the foot with your thumb and index finger. Your other fingers can rest around the foot, and your pinky may even rest under the base of the glass.

Let’s take a look at which glasses to hold by the bottom of the stem and what wines to use with this technique.

Glasses To Hold by the Bottom of the Stem

Holding a glass by the bottom of the stem will give you more stability than gripping at the base. Because of this, you can hold glasses that are a bit larger than your sparkling wine flute. 

Here are a few examples of glasses that you can grip by the bottom of the stem (all links Amazon):

Best Wines To Drink With This Technique

As you may have gathered from the names of these glasses, you can consume both whites and reds using this technique.

The best white wines for this method are the full-bodied whites, such as a rich chardonnay.

Red wines also work best with this technique, as the large surface area of the wider brim allows you to enjoy the complex aromas of the wine and will enable aeration.

3. Hold the Glass by the Top of the Stem

The last way to hold a stemmed wine glass is by the top of the stem. You will pinch the stem just under the bowl with your index finger and thumb to use this method. Your middle finger can rest under your index finger on the front side of the stem or with your other fingers on the backside.

Glasses To Hold by the Top of the Stem

You can hold any stemmed glass by the top of the stem. You may find that you have more stability when holding glasses with wide brims, and this grip may be more comfortable in casual situations. 

Extra tall glasses may also be easier to hold with this method.

Be careful not to hold onto the bottom of the bowl. Holding onto the bowl will transfer the heat from your hands to your wine and raise your wine’s temperature.

Because you can use this technique with any glass type, you can drink both whites and reds using this method.

4. Hold a Stemless Glass by the Base

Example of holding a stemless wine glass by the base.

You probably noticed that all three proper ways to hold a stemmed glass revolve around the stem. So, you may be wondering, how do you hold a wine glass that doesn’t have a stem? Though most wine drinkers prefer a stemmed wine glass, there are times when a stemless glass is more convenient.

The most popular way to hold a stemless wine glass is by its base. If you are using a stemless glass, hold the glass by the base or by the bowl using only your fingertips. Gripping a stemless wine glass by the bottom will ensure the most stability. 

It will also help avoid too much of a temperature change from your body heat.

Best Wines To Drink With This Technique

It is common for people to drink both whites and reds from a stemless wine glass.

However, if you will be holding the glass from the base, I recommend drinking a glass of red wine. You will typically serve your red wine at a warmer temperature than white, making the heat transfer less of an issue.

5. Hold a Stemless Glass by the Bowl

The other way to hold your stemless glass is by the bowl. This technique is typically not preferred, especially in social situations, because gripping a glass by the bowl is an easy way to get smudges and fingerprints all over your glass.

Although this wine glass has a stem, you can see what it would look like to hold a stemless glass by the bowl.

However, if you are drinking at home or with a small group of friends, holding your stemless glass by the bowl might be the way to go. 

As I’ve mentioned, one issue with stemless glasses is heat transfer. Holding your glass by the bowl with your fingertips will ensure the least amount of body contact and, therefore, the least heat transfer to your wine.

Because this method is all about lessening the heat transfer, it is perfect for chilled white wines and rosé. 

How to hold a wine glass properly.

Your Wine Glass Is a Personal Choice

Whichever way you choose to hold your wine glass is a personal choice. So, if you want to choose social etiquette over comfort, that’s your choice.

In fact at home or in more casual situations, you could actually drink your wine from a coffee mug or even a regular glass meant for other beverages. It’s not really a big deal.

If you’re drinking wine at home, you could even drink it straight from the bottle, but we don’t recommend it 🙂

However, what you’ve read here will definitely come in handy if you’re going to a party or a formal event.

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