How To Hold A Wine Glass (Stem Or Stemless) And Other Etiquettes

How To Hold A Wine Glass (Stem Or Stemless) And Other Etiquettes

Wine is a very integral part of society. As such everyone who drinks it is expected to keep up with the etiquette such fine liquor demands. 
Is there a right way to hold a wine glass? What are the basic etiquettes regarding wine? Here we will show you a few tips that are very easy to remember so you don't find yourself in an embarrassing situation next time you went to a party. 

The wine glass has a stem much in the same reason why a beer mug has a handle - to keep the hand away from the drink. The warmth from the hand is inadvertently transferred to the glass and onto the liquor inside it. As much as possible, you want to keep the drink chilled for longer. 

Another reason to hold a wine glass by the stem is to prevent smudges on the bowl of the glass, especially if you have been eating oily foods. 

How to Hold a Wine Glass?

  • One way to hold a wine glass is between the thumb and the index finger and middle finger pressed sideways, near the foot. The rest of the fingers rest on the foot.
  • Another is to pinch at the stem with your thumb and index finger. The rest of the fingers are curled beside the index finger and gently rest on the foot of the glass. 
  • You can hold on to the foot with the thumb resting on the upper part of the foot, near the center where the stem stands. The other fingers should support the lower part of the foot.
  • Yet another hold is on the foot of the glass with the thumb and the other fingers under the foot for more leverage. 
  • When the wine is too cold to drink, hold the wine glass in the cup of your hand for a few minutes. 

White Wine or Red Wine Glass - How to Hold a Wine Glass ?

Red wine glasses have a larger bowl than the white wine glasses because they need to breathe. Thus, holding a red wine glass is a lot trickier than holding a white wine glass or champagne flute. There is no difference in holding both glasses but you need a firmer hold on your red wine glass simply because it has a larger bowl and might be heavier compared to the slimmer white wine glass. 

Holding a Stemless Wine Glass

When drinking from a stemless wine glass, the trick is to hold it near the bottom of the base. This way, the smudges are kept to the area farthest from the rim. Also, drink from the same spot, especially if you are wearing lipstick. 

Is There a Correct Way to Hold a Wine Glass?

There is no correct way to hold a wine glass but there are definitely acceptable ones. Practice the proper way to hold one until it becomes second nature to you. 

Other Wine Etiquettes

  • If you are standing, hold on to your wine glass for easy refilling or until someone comes to collect it. This way, accidents like spills, breaking, and chipping are minimized. 
  • If you are on the table with a formal setting, always return your wine glass to its proper place - to the right of the wine glass.
  • If both white and red wine is served, the white wine glass is to the right of the water glass while the red wine is placed to the back of both glasses. 
  • If you are standing near a counter where you can put your wine glass down, put it on the counter but continue to hold on to it. 
  • Do not grasp at the stem of the wine glass as you would a baseball bat - the hold should be delicate and soft so as not to break off the stem. 
  • Swirling the wine
    • You can swirl the wine holding on to the stem or the foot. Either way is acceptable but holding to the stem seems more stable and less likely to spill. 
    • The better way to swirl the wine is while you are near the counter. Gripping your glass between the two fingers, drop your palm onto the counter and move it a little to swirl. 
    • Refrain from swirling the wine while in motion. It may not be rude but it doubles the chances of spilling. 
  • Look into your wine while sniffing it. It is rude to look somewhere else while sniffing your wine.
  • Making a toast
    • When making a toast and you have to clink glasses, look at the other person, and lightly clink the bowl of your wine glass to the bowl of the other person's. 
    • When toasting from afar, hold your wine glass at eye level. Look at the other person and slightly nod in his direction to acknowledge the toast. 
  • Drinking
    • It is perfectly okay for your nose to be inside the glass rim when drinking the wine. This position highlights the aroma of the wine which in turn makes your drinking experience more of a treat. 
    • Drink on the same spot so your glass will not have smudges on it and look gross. 
  • Serving 
    • When serving wine, serve your guests first before serving your own.
    • Be sure to serve the same amount of wine to all your glasses.
    • Common courtesy dictates that you share the wine you brought or bought to everyone on the table. 
    • At any rate, do not overfill your wine glass. Red wine should only be 1/3 of the glass, 1/2 for the white wine, and 3/4 for sparkling wines. 
    • Choose the right stemware for the wine you are serving. This earns your guests respect and shows that you are a very capable host. 


Whether you are a heavy or an occasional wine drinker, wine etiquette is a must at all times, even if you are alone at home. Habits are formed over time and it looks more natural when you have been practicing than forcing it when in a formal setting. 

Some people simply choose a wine just because a bottle is insanely expensive or very cheap. Price does not always dictate your palate. Your wine preference is your own and should not be dictated by society. Although to be a graceful host or guest, never insult the wine served or gifted to you. Here are a few more tips on how to choose and serve your wine.


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