How to hold a wine glass
Of course, and most certainly, no one is entitled to tell you how to hold a wine glass properly. For all I care, you are free to drink your wine from a straw in a mustard glass while square dancing backwards to the tunes of Led Zeppelin at double speed.
If you insist on performing this or similar acrobatic vinous stunts, please go ahead. However, please send us a picture. It will be greatly appreciated.
Hold the wine glass as you want
Now, the subject we are dealing with here is undoubtedly among the lesser ground breaking first world problems the human species is facing. And as long as you pay attention to what you are tasting, you can hold and grab the glass as it suits you. Nevertheless, there are a few good and remarkably simple tips for how to get a better tasting experience by holding your red wine glass in a certain way.
Tips for holding a red wine glass
Most of us are probably already holding the wine glass in the so-called correct way, and that's just great. Below I also have a few additional funky moves that can help you further improve the good wine experience.
Hold your wine glass by the stem
All wine glasses with stem are optimally held by grapping the stem close to the base of the foot of the glass. Personally, I prefer pinching the stem with my thumb, index and middle finger and letting the remaining fingers rest on the foot of the glass.
Providing the best stability this way, I have the best control of the glass when I swirl the wine.
Many ways to hold the wine glass
There are countless variants of this technique, and they're all just fine. You can hold between your fingers, squeeze the stem or hold only by the foot.
The latter is often seen at standing tastings, social occasions or receptions, and is also suitable for handing a glass to someone.
Why you should hold your wine glass by the stem
The main reason for holding a wine glass by the stem, is to prevent that the wine is warmed by the palms, and the ideal serving temperature of wine is not to be taken lightly.
In particular, white wine glasses, champagne glasses, port glasses and dessert wine glasses are important to keep cool while enjoying the lovely drops.Besides, some people find that greasy fingerprints aren’t pretty to a wine glass. If you hold by the stem, you can also swirl the wine in the glass with a bit of practice.
Give your wine a swirl
Now we have arrived at the funky move, that I mentioned earlier, namely swirling the wine in the glass. This will increase your wine tasting experience.
If you are not yet completely convinced by the idea of swirling wine in the glass, you should try this exercise. Next time you are having a glass of wine, try smelling the freshly served wine in the glass without having swirled the wine at all. Then give the wine a good decent swirl in the glass. Now put your nose close to the wine and smell again. Due to the larger surface and evaporation of the flavours, there should now be a huge difference in the intensity of the of the wine’s aromas.
If you have not tried to swirl wine in a glass before, it may be a good idea to start placing the glass on the table while turning the glass in a gentle centrifugal motion.
When you, and not least your wrist, have figured the concept of the moves, you can practice holding the wine glass by the stem while gently swirling the wine.
In the video on this page, I give you a sneaky little bonus trick on how to practice the swirling movement without splashing your surroundings in wine. (Danish spoken, English subtitles available)
This is why your wine should be swirled in the glass
You can recognize a wine geek from a long distance by the way that the wine glass is in a constant swirling motion.
More or less unconsciously and seemingly robotic, the wine is subject to a constant swing in the glass as a way to give the wine as much air contact as possible to open aromatically and structurally.
The larger the surface, the more aromatic compounds are released for the benefit of our olfactory senses.
How to correctly serve a glass of wine
Read a few good tips from the professionals about how to serve a nice glass of wine.
And when you are done tasting and the dishes are calling, you can read our article on how to wash wine glasses, in which I also provide a cool and handy tip for wiping wine glasses without breaking them.
Wine glasses, etiquette and your grandmother
Your grandmother, your inner etiquette teacher and I will be proud when we see you holding the glass properly. Partly, we're happy and proud because you show respect of the etiquette, but mostly because you show that you care about your wine.
The geek's corner here. I’m sorry, but I simply must share a nerdy and geeky study that seems so far out there, that it's too good to be true. I just love this!
A study by students at the highly-acclaimed Polytechnic Institute in Lausanne, in 2011, examined the hydrodynamics of swirling wine in a glass. Using a high-speed camera, the study examines a fluid that is being swirled in a glass in order to identify the factors that determine the number of crests and troughs of the wine waves.
The study is available here at the Cornell University Library's website where you can also download a fine short video (8 MB or 158 MB).
As generic wine consumers, we do not have any use of this knowledge, but don’t you just love to see how specialised and almost geeky this thing can get?
Michael Kahr Jørgensen