The Proper Way To Hold Wine Glass and Other Wine Etiquette To Know

Don't throw etiquette to the wind once your wine is in a glass.

If wine ever took the stage at a pageant, it would probably win Miss Congeniality—much like a certain undercover FBI agent we know—wine is a forever fan favorite. There's a variety for every palate under the sun because wine is more accessible than ever. You can buy it in a box, bag, or can. But just because your vino may have humble beginnings doesn't mean you can throw all caution and etiquette to the wind once it's out of its unconventional vessel and into your glass. There is a correct way to drink from stemware and present different wine varieties. Here's the etiquette you need to know the next time you pour yourself some wine.

Close-up of female holding glass with redwine
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Etiquette for Holding Wine Glasses

How To Hold a Glass of Wine

Some things in your home are for show (we're looking at you, decorative door knocker, and fake fruit). But the stem of your wine glass is not one of them. Use it! While holding your wine glass by its fragile stem may feel a little precarious, or perhaps even irresponsible, it's the proper thing to do—and it will make your wine more enjoyable to drink.

How To Serve Different Types of Wine

Serve whites and rosés chilled, while reds can be served just below room temperature. At formal gatherings, you may serve white wines before red or even an open bar where people can select their preferred choice. Sparkling, semi-sparkling, and dessert wines are other options that each have their set of serving expectations, but most of the basics stay the same.

How Holding a Glass Influences the Wine Temperature

When holding wine by the glass bowl rather than the stem, you're warming the wine and detracting from the experience. Therefore, you should grip your wine glass by the stem, pinching it between your thumb, pointer, and middle fingers. Your other two fingers will sit naturally on the base of the glass. It's also acceptable to hold your wine glass at the base with your thumb and pointer finger, with your middle finger under the base to hold it steady.

How Holding a Glass Influences Its Appearance

While holding your glass by the stem will keep your wine at the proper temperature, there's another perk. You won't leave unbecoming fingerprints all over the bowl.

You may not be able to describe the earthy aftertaste of your Pinot Noir or recognize the mouthfeel of your Malbec's tannins. Still, you can correctly hold a glass by the stem, and that's a victory for wine connoisseurs everywhere.

Should You Give Wine as a Hostess Gift?

For those not skilled in cooking, baking, or crafting, a bottle of wine may seem like an obvious choice for a hostess gift. It's great in a pinch, and it's something we'd be happy to receive for ourselves. But showing up to a dinner party with a bottle of wine can cause quite the etiquette problem for your host. Avoid any awkwardness by presenting it in a way that clearly represents it as a gift, not an obligation to be opened that evening. Also, when in doubt, you can always purchase two bottles if you think the hostess will want to open one the night of the event—this way, they still have something to enjoy as a gift later.

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