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Types of Drinking Glassware

by Angela Tague

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Drinking glasses and barware

Drinking glasses come in all shapes and sizes, from small tumblers designed to hold only a few ounces to large brandy snifters that hold 17.5 ounces. Each style of drinking glassware serves a specific purpose. Some are designed to direct the aroma of wine or brandy to the nose before drinking, while others are built for durability during high-spirited toasts. Drinking glasses are often classified by the presence or absence of a stem and the style of bowl. The shape of the glass, combined with the fluid capacity, enables each piece of glassware to fill a particular role when serving beverages.

Drinking Glasses:

  1. Stems: The upright support of a slender stem allows drinkers to hold drinkware by the stem and the base instead of the bowl. Holding the stem allows you to hold the glass without warming the liquid in the bowl with your hand. Common glass stemware includes champagne flutes, wine glasses, martini glasses, margarita glasses and water goblets. Glassware without stems includes beer glasses, Collins glasses, highball glasses and shot glasses.

  2. Bowls: Wine glasses often have a large, wide-mouth bowl for swirling wine to produce an aroma before tasting. Coupette glasses have a wide-mouth bowl to accommodate a rim of salt or sugar for margaritas. Gin and strong liquors are sometimes served in cordial glasses with a small bowl, usually measuring 2 ounces.

  3. Size: Glasses vary widely in size. A shot glass typically has a capacity of 1.5 ounces. Aperitifs, port wine and sherry are often served in 2-ounce sherry glasses. Typical champagne flutes hold 6 ounces. Mixed drinks served in highball glasses are usually 8 to 12 ounces. A traditional glass beer mug holds 16 ounces of liquid.

  4. Features: From handles to feet, the different features of drinking glasses often make them easier to hold. Glass coffee mugs used to serve hot dessert beverages, such as liquor-flavored coffees, are fitted with a wide handle so your hand doesn't get bothered by the temperature of the beverage. Rummers have a foot under the bowl, with no stem, for stability.

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