Glassware Buying Guide

by Staff Writer

When you're setting the table, which glassware to use is often an afterthought, but the right glassware completes an elegant place setting and lets you properly enjoy your favorite drinks. Glassware comes in a huge variety that can be daunting. This buying guide explains your options in glassware so you can invest in the right glasses and barware for your kitchen.


Glassware Buying Guide

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  • Wine glasses:

    Wine glasses are designed to give you full enjoyment of wine. Glasses for red wines are larger and wider than those for whites so your nose will be inside the rim as you tip the glass. This is because red wine's flavor tends to be heavier and needs to be inhaled to be fully enjoyed. The narrower shape of white wine glasses reduces the chances of warming the wine, which is usually served chilled. If you like both white and red wines, be sure to have both types of wine glasses on hand. These glasses are commonly made of glass or crystal. To learn more about wine glasses, check out the Wine Glasses Buying Guide.

  • Champagne flutes:

    The champagne flute is a stem glass with a tall, narrow bowl. The bowl is designed to retain champagne's carbonation, by reducing the surface area at the opening of the bowl. Although many people like champagne saucers, toasting flutes are better designed to retain the bubbles and maximize flavor.

  • Snifters:

    A brandy snifter has a shorter stem, and the main vessel has a wide bottom that narrows at the top to trap the aromas of the drink in the glass. Although snifters is able to hold 6 to 8 ounces, you should not pour more than 2 to 3 ounces at a time. This allows the aromas to open up inside the glass.

  • Cocktail or Martini glasses:

    Martini glasses have a wide, cone-shaped bowl on a stem with a flat base. Martini glasses are used to serve more than just martinis and work well for any shaken and strained cocktails that need to stay cold to be fully enjoyed.

  • Margarita glasses:

    Margarita glasses are shaped similarly to martini glasses, with a wide bowl on a stem that is usually -- but not always -- cone-shaped. The main difference is that margarita glasses are thicker to accommodate frozen or blended margaritas as well as salt crystals on the rim.

  • Stem-less wine glasses:

    Stem-less wine glasses are shaped the same as traditional wine glasses, just without the stem. This modern take on stemware works best with red wines because your hand will warm the glass as you hold it.

Beer Glasses

  • Pilsner:

    A pilsner glass is best used for any lagers, including pilsners. Pilsner glasses are usually smaller than pint glasses. The glass shape tapers to a short neck and narrow base.

  • Pint glass:

    A pint glass is made to hold an Imperial pint, which is about 1.2 U.S. pints. A pint glass can be used for most beers or ciders.

  • Beer stein:

    A beer stein is a traditional German beer tankard made of pewter, silver, wood, porcelain, earthenware, stoneware or glass. In Germany, it is usually called a steinkrug if it is made from stoneware or glaskrug if it is made of glass. A traditional beer stein holds one liter of liquid and has a handle.


  • Highball glass:

    In the late 19th century, when mixed drinks were first introduced, they were referred to as "highballs" because they were served in these tall (high) tumblers.

  • Collins glass:

    Named for the Tom Collins cocktail traditionally served in it, a Collins glass is taller than a traditional highball tumbler.

  • Old-fashioned glass:

    These glasses are also known as "low-balls" and are the shortest tumbler. They can usually hold at least 6 ounces and are great for mixed drinks.

Other Glassware

  • Shot glasses:

    Shot glasses are small glasses that hold about 1 to 3 ounces of liquor. Shot glasses can be used for measuring liquor to be poured into a mixed drink, or you can drink straight from the glass. Shot glasses have thicker sides and are the smallest glassware.

  • Drinking glasses:

    This term covers a variety of glassware options. Typical drinking glasses hold anywhere from 5 to 12 ounces of liquid. Drinking glasses can be made from just about any material: glass, plastic, wood, metal or others. Because this term is so broad, drinking glasses can handle just about any drink. Use them for milk, soda, juice or any other beverages you like to drink throughout the day.

  • Coffee mugs:

    There's no mystery here: Coffee mugs are a must for the coffee drinker. Coffee cups absorb some of the initial heat when hot liquid is poured in and then keep the liquid from cooling too quickly. Coffee mugs are great for more than just coffee; hot chocolate and tea also benefit from this design.