The Best Glassware for Your Favorite Drinks
Put down the Solo cup. Your beverage deserves better.
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During the holiday season, plenty of us will indulge. Appetizers, second helpings, dessert—the list goes on. We can't forget about our favorite adult beverages, either. Between Christmas and New Year's, there is a lot of quality beer, liquor, and wine that gets consumed around the world. And by "quality," we mean "expensive."
It's fine to drink some beer out of the bottle, just as it's okay to drink some red wine in a white wine glass. If you're gonna be drinking the good stuff this season, though, you should probably use the proper glass. It not only makes you look more sophisticated, but also makes your beverage of choice taste even better.
Whether drinking bonafide sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France, or just plain old sparkling wine, you want a glass that is going to improve taste while keeping the liquid effervescent. Enter the long and elegant champagne flute, a glass that has become synonymous with sophistication.
The champagne flute was designed to do two things for your bubbly wine of choice:
- Keep bubbles from escaping thanks to the narrow opening and rough base
- Keep your drink cool by holding from the stem
Why do you want to keep this beverage fizzy? Because the bubbles in these drinks actually affect the taste. Think about it: When you take a sip from a champagne flute, the bubbles irritate your nose, which alters the taste. For this reason, we recommend staying away from the champagne coupe, which is a wide-rimmed glass that was popular in a bygone era. After all, flat champagne is worse than flat soda.
Bonus wine tip: In addition to sounding affluent, crystal glassware is better for your champagne. Since crystal has an overall rougher texture than glass, it will help keep your sparkling wine sparkly.
It may be a terrible song, but red wine is (surprise!) a delicious drink. Whether full-bodied and full of tannins, or well-aged and smooth, these wines make the perfect drink before, during, and after a meal.
Red wine is typically sipped from a glass with a wide bowl, which has more surface area and therefore causes more air to reach your expensive liquid. When wine is exposed to air, a process called oxidation occurs. Simply put, oxygen changes how wine tastes, especially the red variant. Complex flavors become smoother, creating a more satisfying sip.
Bonus wine tip: For a real treat, try pouring a full-bodied red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah into a decanter. These serving vessels oxidize your wine much quicker than a typical balloon glass, not to mention they look totally classy.
Unlike their more complex red cousins, white wines benefit far less from the oxidation process. For this reason, white wine glasses have much less surface area than balloon-shaped red wine glasses.
Another reason for the narrow nature of these glasses? Heat cannot transfer as easily, meaning your chilled white wine—you did chill it, right?—remains cold for longer. Unlike red wines, you shouldn't hold these glasses by the base. Grip the stem so that your Chardonnay remains chilly.
Bonus wine tip: Got a delicious rosé wine? Well, put down your giant red wine glass—these wines are actually considered white. The reddish tint comes from the grape's skin, not the juice.
Depending on who you ask, whiskey (or whisky) can be enjoyed from a lowball glass or even a paper Dixie cup. Since we're all over 21, lets at least use some actual glass.
One of the more interesting glasses to come out recently is the Glencairn whiskey glass. This tulip-shaped drinking device curves inwards near the top, which focuses the aroma of your whiskey of choice. And as we all know, our sense of smell impacts our sense of taste quite a lot.
Of course, if you're just drinking whiskey because it's the quickest way to get where you're going, a Dixie cup will do just fine. Heck, you can skip the middleman entirely and just swig from the bottle! But if you actually love the taste of this golden-brown liquid, give the Glencairn glass a try.
Bonus whiskey tip: Many purists don't like diluting their expensive scotches and bourbons. In order to cool your whiskey without frozen water, whiskey stones were invented. Pop these little soapstone rocks in the freezer for a few hours and then place them in your drink. The slight chill takes some of the whiskey's edge off without watering your fancy beverage down. Other enthusiast accessories include the whiskey ice ball mold and giant cube trays. These are intended to create ice that melts more slowly than your garden-variety cubes.
Wine isn't the only alcoholic drink that grapes are responsible for. Brandy, wine's distilled cousin, is more popular than ever, thanks to countless shout-outs by rappers. Hennessy, Courvoisier, and Rémy Martin enjoy major brand recognition because of the hip-hop world, but rappers never talk about the appropriate glassware to use. Strange!
Instead of asking Diddy and Pharrell to pass the Courvoisier, Busta Rhymes should first ask for a brandy snifter. This glass is similar in shape to the Glencairn whiskey glass, which helps focus the aroma to your nose. Unlike the previous whiskey glass, snifters have a small stem. You are encouraged to cup a brandy snifter with your palm to slightly warm the liquid, which opens up the flavor of the brandy. Now if only Rick Ross would do a public service announcement about this.
Bonus brandy tip: In addition to cupping a snifter, you can also swirl warm water around the glass before pouring your brandy of choice in. This will help flavors to emerge quicker, which has the side effect of you enjoying your drink more. Cheers!
It's no secret that craft beers have become mainstream. According to some recent studies, the market for small-batch brews is growing by as much as 15 percent year over year.
Unlike an ice-cold Bud Light or Miller High Life, your fancy shmancy microbrew probably shouldn't be sipped out of the bottle or can. A nice beer glass will open up the flavors of your favorite malty (or hoppy) beverage of choice. Most beer drinkers are familiar with the pilsner glass, which is a tall pint glass that starts off narrow but quickly expands. The wide opening is great for keeping a proper head on your beer when poured.
Another popular beer glass is the aforementioned brandy snifter. With its narrow, focused opening, your nose will be forced to absorb the intoxicating scents coming from a Belgian tripel or quad. Unlike with brandy, though, you shouldn't cup the base of the glass—no one likes warm beer.
The beer geniuses over at Beer Advocate have a comprehensive guide detailing the 10 most common beer glass types. (Yes, ten.) If you really want to get into the geeky side of beer drinking, it's a great place to start.
Bonus beer tip: You don't want to drink lagers and ales ice-cold. Instead of pouring these types of beer into a freezer-chilled mug, simply dispense into the appropriate room temperature glass—your drink should be the perfect drinking temperature.
Hero image: Flickr user "scissorhands33" (CC BY 2.0)