Non-alcoholic wine is a great way to end the day, because it's a great way to be kind to yourself tomorrow: no headache, no nausea, and no interrupted REM sleep. After all, a glass of wine with dinner might make you fall asleep faster, but it won't make you fall asleep better. So, people all over the world are drinking more and more non-alcoholic wine.
But if you want to do it right and enjoy the fullest experience, then you probably want to pay attention to the glassware. With so many wine glasses out there, it can get confusing, even before you start thinking about how to choose the right wine glass for your foray into the world of non-alcoholic wine.
The good news is that because non-alcoholic wines are dealcoholized in such a way that their flavors are entirely preserved –– in fact, most people won't notice much of a difference at all –– so the same general rules for considering various types of wine glasses still apply, whether you're drinking a wine with or without alcohol.
The Four Basic Types of Wine Glasses
There is a different type of wine glass for non-alcoholic red wines, non-alcoholic white wines, dessert wines, and non-alcoholic sparkling wines, and indeed, there are glasses for each varietal to emphasize their flavors and strengths.
When considering a wine glass, the two most important components are the bowl shape and rim, though you should consider the stem and base as well.
The best wine glasses are delicate –– crystal or thin glass –– and shaped so as to accentuate the aroma, flavor, and taste of the wine. The basic shapes you will find are:
Red wine glasses, with a large bowl and narrow rim
White wine glasses, with a tulip shaped bowl that tapers to the rim
Champagne glasses, which can be flutes or coupes, depending on how you prefer to experience the bubbles
Dessert wine glasses, which are generally smaller and less tapered
Why are there different types of wine glasses?
Different bowl shapes and rim sizes will emphasize and promote different aspects of a wine. A wine glass with a tapered rim will concentrate the nose, or scent, of a wine, so that as you sip you inhale the aromas. A larger bowl size allows more oxygen to circulate, which aerates the wine, while white wine glasses have a smaller bowl because their flavors and aromas do not benefit as much from aeration. The combination of the bowl shape and the rim direct wine to different parts of the mouth. Different styles of glasses are best suited to different types of wine because of their different characteristics.
The stem is important because it keeps the warmth of the drinker's hands away from the wine. With a white or rosé, usually served chilled, that's important; there's traditionally a longer stem. In a red wine glass, the stem can be shorter because it's okay for the wine to warm.
Best Wine Glass for Non-Alcoholic Red Wines
Red wine glasses need to aerate the wine and circulate the tannins while concentrating the nose. Red wine has complex, deep flavors that need to develop, and the drinker should be able to experience this through scent as well as taste. The narrow or flared lip concentrates the wine's aroma, and the wide bowl shape aerates the wine and opens up the flavors. Therefore, different types of red wine are better sampled using different wine glass styles.
Square edge wine glasses aerate wine particularly well, and though they don't concentrate the aromas as well as a tapered rim in a tulip shaped glass, they do offer a distinct ease of sipping and high degree of flavor development. The everyday drinker won't notice the slightly decreased nose experience, but will appreciate the aeration and that the glass can be used for spirits as well. Stemless wine glasses work very well as non-alcoholic red wine glasses because of their narrow rim.
Use a Bordeaux Glass for Full-Bodied Red Wines
Bold red wines that benefit from the aeration and the development of their tannins include wines like Bordeaux, Cabernet sauvignon, and Merlot. The higher sides of the larger bowl of these red wine glasses allow the drinker to see the legs as they develop. Full-bodied red wines that are chewier or more complex, with notes of darker fruits, benefit from tapered rims over a large bowl because these firmer wines have a stronger bouquet and benefit from the movement up the side of the glass. The Bordeaux glass directs the fuller styles to the back of the mouth. A Syrah or Malbec glass will be slightly more slender, but still quite similar to a Bordeaux glass. The cyclone stemless wine glass is a great choice for the Bordeaux or Syrah shape and specific style.
Use a Burgundy Glass for medium and light bodied red wine
One of the first considerations when selecting wine glasses is the bowl. This is because a light or medium bodied wine, like a burgundy or a pinot noir, needs to aerate more to develop the flavor and higher acidity. Therefore, the lighter bodied the wine, the larger the bowl of the glass should be. A standard pour will look lower for a fuller bodied wine in the right glass. A burgundy glass or a pinot noir glass will therefore have a large bowl. A wide bowl and a narrow rim will concentrate the aromas as you sip, which enhances the flavor experience. The rim can be flared, which spreads the wine across the palate, but it is the narrowing will concentrate the nose.
Best Wine Glass for Non-Alcoholic White Wines
The best white wine glass has a smaller bowl than a red glass, because white wines tend to benefit less from oxidation.
Use a Sauvingnon Blanc Glass for most white wines
This will allow you to pick up on the terpenes and bouquet of these lighter wines. Generally, white wine glasses are tulip shaped, with a narrow lip and narrow bowl size to reduce oxidation and concentrate the light, nuanced flavors to create the fullest possible effect. White wine glasses are traditionally longer stemmed glasses, to keep the wine cooler. A standard pour will sit a bit higher in white wine glasses because of the narrower bowl.
Use a chardonnay glass for... Chardonnay
Chardonnay glasses are the exception to most rules about white wine -- they have the widest and most oxidation friendly bowls, while white wine glasses more generally have a narrow bowl size. This is because Chardonnay is made from Burgundy grapes, with less exposure to the tannins of the grape's skin, making Chardonnay essentially a white Burgundy. Therefore, when you open a bottle of non-alcoholic chardonnay, you'll want something with a wider bowl.
Best Wine Glass for Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Wines
When you want to raise a glass of champagne, but you don't want that notorious champagne headache, you need a flute or a coupe.
The fluted shape with a narrow, elongated bowl and a narrow rim slows the escape of the bubbles and keeps the delicious, non-alcoholic sparkling wine sparkling for longer. Another great champagne alternative, the Blanc de Blanc, benefits from a flute because of narrow lip of this specific style.
A champagne coupe, on the other hand, is wonderful for a sparkling rosé because it allows the flavor and aroma to develop with aeration. A coupe shape opens up the bubbles and flavors of a sparkling wine and doubles as a great glass for cocktails. The bubbles will dissipate more quickly in a coupe, but the additional maceration of a rosé means that opening up the wine to aeration leaves a complex and delightful experience in your glass after the bubbly experience is gone.
Best Wine Glass for Dessert Wines
A dessert wine glass is slightly smaller. These glasses are designed to accommodate the smaller standard pour of a dessert wine because of the higher alcohol content in traditional versions, but the strong flavors of non-alcoholic dessert wine justifies the smaller glass in non-alcoholic wines as well. The rims vary from the wide, triangular taper of a sherry glass, which opens up the scent profile, to an open and tulip shape for a glass of port, to the immense bowl and narrow rim of a brandy snifter.
Best Universal Wine Glass
The best glass for everything needs to do the work of many types of wine glasses, and work well for many different types of wine.
Stemless wine glasses are very attractive, because they are so much harder to tip and spill; red wine stains are very hard to get out, and non-alcoholic red wine is no different from traditional wine in that regard. For that reason, stemless wine glasses can be a great go-to red wine glass, and because the warmth of the drinker's hand isn't going to have a negative impact on the taste. A nice thin, stemless glass will allow you to swirl for aromas as you would with a pinot noir, cabernet, or burgundy glass, without worrying that you'll set it down wrong and send your drink across the tablecloth.
Square edge wine glasses are a great go-to for white or rose wines because these glasses are not traditionally as rounded as red wine glasses, and the stem allows you to keep the heat of your hands away from the bowl of the glass. They also work well for cocktails that you'd like to keep cold longer. Most wine glasses have a tulip shape that concentrates the aromas of the beverage, wine or spirits, as you sip. But the more open rim of a square edge glass makes it possible to enjoy more intense spirits with the same set.
Is there a wine glass that works for spirits and wine?
If you're looking for a wine glass that will serve a variety of purposes well and you don't tend to intentionally sniff before you sip, a set of square edge glasses will serve you well for red and white wines, spirits and cocktails. The stem will keep your whites and roses at the right temperature, the open rim and wide bowl will allow your reds to breathe, and your cocktails will thrive. Ferm Living makes a beautiful, stackable wine glass set you can pick up today.
Now that you're ready to open a bottle and choose a glass...
Boisson has an incredible selection of non-alcoholic wines for you to try. Pick up a set of beautiful square edge glasses from ferm living or a gorgeous mid-century modern coupe for a celebratory glass of something sparkly. Enjoy!