Do Wine Glass Shapes Matter_(Wine 103) with Pumpjack & Piddlewick

I am going to tell you a story about wine glass shapes. It’s a true story. In fact, it’s a personal experience story. The day, well, actually night, that I experienced an epiphany moment. Okay, maybe slight exaggeration, but my eyes were opened.

Wine Tasting

My partner was still in university, earning his oenology (fancy term for wine making) degree, when he had the opportunity to go to a tasting regarding wine glass shapes. Alas, I, as a non-student, was not allowed to attend. Rather, I was given the dubious honour of picking up said taster, after it was all over.

Duty done, and an excited passenger on board, we stopped for a meal at a favourite restaurant. He proceeded to regale me with the afternoons happenings. But rather than explain, he showed me. He ordered a bottle of wine, unpacked his gifty box and proceeded to show me the differences in wine glass shapes.


The tasting had been offered by Riedel. I gather, if you are into your wine glasses, these are very, very nice. I will grant you, I liked the sound they made if you clinked, but otherwise they were rather large for my tastes. (Bring back mid-century wine glasses any day, I say.)

As part of the tasting my partner was given 4 different shaped glasses to take home. Now that’s very nice, as we were particularly short on wine glasses at the time. He put a small amount of the same wine in each glass and asked me to swirl, smell and taste from each glass.

A Wine Glass for each Wine

The 4 glasses were shaped as follows:

Do you think a Wine Glass Shape Matters _ dicuss with PumpjackPiddlwick
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  1. What I call a typical wine glass shape, sort of tulip like, which I gather was designed particularly for Chardonnay made wines.
  2. A larger version of number 1, which I would call a bucket, but I gather is for red wines, particularly Bordeaux.
  3. A slightly smaller, narrower version of number 1, which was reserved for Rieslings (preferably the drier version, according to my taste buds. Gorgeous if you haven’t tried.)
  4. A wide bottomed one, shaped like a fat tear drop, which is for Pinot Noir grape wines, e.g. Burgundy area in France.

(In the picture to the right – the order would be 3, 4, 1, 2.)

Does shape matter?

As I was saying, my partner put a little wine, a decent Chardonnay from some where, into each glass. I was instructed to swirl, smell and taste. After trying one, I was to move on directly to the next glass and try another, and so on. Comparing the smells and tastes between all 4 wine glasses.

Was there a difference? Seriously, and surprisingly, yeah.

The same wine in each glass definitely tasted different. Not the difference between sweet and sour, minerally and oaky, but rather, just a difference. It was the same wine after all. But it was really surprising how each glass made it taste, well, different from the previous glass. As though it was made by different wineries, or maybe in different years.

Talk Amongst Yourselves

In the wine world there are opposing factions. Those that poo-poo differing wine glass shapes, saying it is simply a marketing gimic – Vinepair. In fact a gimic set up by Riedel. And very possibly so, but…

Then there are those taking a more scientific approach to this concept – Scientific American in example. (Surprisingly my restaurant test doesn’t count.) They say that it’s the alcoholic content that makes the difference with different shaped glasses. Something about ethanol and fumes.

All I can say is, I tasted a difference. And, because it was fun, I recommend you try it. Find 4, or more, different shaped glasses in your home, a single bottle of wine, and simply have a go. I would be interested to know if you feel the same.

Shop Wine Lover Gifts

As someone involved in wine, I am always on the search for interesting, unique and particularly French wine items for our vintage and antiques shop. Here’s a taste of some of the things we have found:


No, I am not sponsored or affiliated with Riedel. If you would like to know more about my affiliations or simply join in more, visit the Nourishing Pumpjack & Piddlewick page.



  1. I enjoyed reading this – my colleague and i have been discussing the merits of a fine cut glass and its influence on taste and experience – the ambiance of drinking !

    1. Author

      Thank you. I think we underestimate how much ambience plays as part of our enjoyment. I adore beautiful glasses. I personally prefer the old style cut or etched glasses from the early to mid 20th century. Our wine glass collection is eclectic. (With a stoneware sink, we break alot.) Many of our glasses of late came from wine festivals in the area as they give you a glass so you can taste the wines of that area/town. (Highly recommend these festivals if you are ever in France.) I am currently on the search for a couple old fashioned Champagne coupes and Reisling glasses. Of course, if I find them, I will have to decide whether to sell them in our shop or keep them. Hard decision!

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