How Do You Lay Out Wine Glasses? Arranging Glassware On The Table Properly

Isn’t it nice to see a gorgeous table setting that makes you feel already satisfied before the food is even served? If you are not used to seeing a lot of items on a table, it can get quite overwhelming. There seems to be more utensils than you need. For instance, there isn’t  just a single glass, there are at least two of them laid on the table depending on the occasion. This article will solely talk about the proper placement of glassware in a table setting. If you want to learn all about it, stick around to prepare yourself for your next party or gathering. 

Different Types of Glassware Arrangement

Arranging glasses on a table isn’t rocket science. It is just a matter of keeping them organized so proper table setting is observed. The number of glasses depends on the occasion. If you are having dinner with your family, you normally would only have one glass, which is for water. If you’re having a casual gathering with friends, you would have at least two glasses, for water and wine. Big events, however, like formal parties require more glasses as there will be more drinks to pair the different kinds of food served. Before learning where each glass is placed, one has to be familiar about some of the glass formations on a table. 

The key element one has to bear in mind when laying out  glasses on the table is space. You just have to have a good eye to see if the items on the table are balanced. If you think that there are many plates, utensils and other items on the table, you have to make sure that the glasses are arranged in a way that it does not make the table crowded and look overwhelming. In this situation, space may be scarce but there are arrangements that can remedy this. On the other hand, if a table does not have many items, it would be wise to fill the gaps on the table with the glasses to make it look proportionate. What matters is that the outcome looks good, simple and elegant. 


If it is just a basic table setting, only one glass is needed which is intended for water. It can be a water goblet or a regular stemless glass. It is placed right above the knife or above the space between the knife and the plate. 


For casual occasions, there will be two glasses used: one for water and one for another beverage, usually wine or could also be juice. The additional glass will then be placed beside the water glass. Variations have it beside the water glass but slightly higher or lower. The stemless wine glasses can also be used for casual occasions.  


Formal events and gatherings have at least three glasses: one for water and the other two for red wine and white wine. If there is a dessert wine glass, it would be placed as the top point of the triangle. Then, the water glass is placed below it but slightly angled to the left. Finally, the red or wine glass is placed on the lower right side, forming the triangle. This type of arrangement actually saves up space and allows easy access for any of them. Another triangular arrangement will have the white wine glass just above the knife that  is used for the main course. Then, on its lower right, the water glass takes its place and the red wine glass stays above the white wine glass. 

Diamond Shape

If the triangular arrangement makes room for one more glass, then it would form a diamond shape. It is pretty much like the triangular shape but the white wine glass is positioned at a left  angle below the red wine glass. And the sherry glass is placed at the lower left of the white wine glass. 

Straight Line

A simple arrangement that accommodates three glasses is by lining them up parallel to the edge of the table, above the knife and spoon. The order would be water glass, red wine and then white wine. It doesn’t require too much work, and it makes the table look neat and uncrowded. 

Diagonal Line

A variation of the straight-line arrangement is by tilting it to form a diagonal arrangement. The order is the same, water goblet first, then the wine glasses, which sometimes can exchange places. The arrangement is still above the utensils but they are angled towards the edge of the table. 

Slight Curve

Mostly, in formal and big events, there would be a wider scope of food and drinks. And so,  arranging three wine glasses in a straight line may be simple and uncrowded but lining up five of them can make the table look dull. To remedy this, the glasses are arranged in a slightly curved position with the order being: water goblet, champagne flute, white wine glass, red wine glass and sherry glass.

Where to Place the Glasses

Meals for different types of occasions require different kinds of glasses. But, in any of them, the water goblet is always present. It is a standard that glasses should be placed at the right side, above the knives, even for left-handed guests. The following glasses won’t all be arranged on the table at a single meal but only a combination of at most five of them. Because there are different foods served in every course, there are also different drinks. 

It may seem confusing if one does not know where to put which glass. You just have to remember that they are laid out in an order in which they will have to be used, just like silverware. All the glasses will be placed on the table and there will be no fetching other glasses once the eating has commenced. This will ensure that everything is settled to be within your reach before and during your meal.  Here are the following glassware and their proper placement on a table setting. 

Water Goblet 

The one glass that will not be absent in every dinner setting is the water goblet. Water is needed to wash down the food you ate or to cleanse your palate whenever you are about to drink the next wine. The water goblet is placed closest to the hand at the right side. It is usually above the tip of the knife, roughly 1 inch apart. 

Wine Glasses

In a casual dinner, only one wine glass is usually needed and it will be positioned just beside the water goblet so it is still near the guest’s hand. But at formal gatherings and big events, there will be more than one wine glass. Usually, it will be a multi-course meal so the wine glasses are arranged in an order that they will be filled with their respective wines in each course. One would imagine this as a lineup of wine glasses but to save space, they can be arranged in a shape like the triangular and the diamond. The position of the wine glasses will differ based on the number and the type of arrangement. 

Red Wine Glass

Next to the water goblet, the red wine glass is the most common glassware you can see in almost all table settings. If it’s just the water goblet and the red wine glass, they are usually beside each other.  If the arrangement is either the straight or diagonal line, it is usually next to the water goblet at the right side. In a triangular shape, it is placed at the upper left of the white wine glass and above the spoon. In the diamond shape, it is at the upper right of the white wine glass. And if there are five glasses, the red wine glass is usually on the fourth place in the middle of the white wine glass and sherry glass.  

White Wine Glass

In any arrangement that requires three glasses, the white wine glass usually stands beside the red wine glass, so it is farther from the center of the table. For the triangular arrangement, it will be placed on the lower right side of the red wine glass. But, if there is no red wine, instead, sherry is served, then the white wine glass will be placed at the upper left of the sherry glass. And for the diamond arrangement, it will be at the lower left side of the red wine glass. In the 5-lineup, it takes the third place, between the champagne flute and the red wine glass. 

Champagne Flute

Sometimes, neither red or white wine is served and in its place, Champagne is served. The Champagne flute will be placed next to the water goblet at the right side. When Champagne is served to go along with a particular dish, then it will be placed according to the time that particular dish will be served. In the curved arrangement, it takes the second spot, between the water goblet and the white wine glass. 

Sherry Glass

The presence of the sherry glass is pretty unique. It is just like the Champagne flute wherein it is served to accompany a particular dish, but not just any dish, it has to have sherry as an ingredient. In the event that the table is crowded, the sherry glass takes its place at the front left side of the white wine glass at the right. But, if the table is not filled with too much stuff, the sherry glass can be placed at the right side of the white wine glass. And it would be placed at the fifth spot, farthest from the center of the table in the five-lineup. 

Dessert Wine Glass

Unlike the other glasses which are already laid on the table before starting the meal, the dessert wine glass is only brought out when it is time for dessert. In the triangular arrangement, it will be placed at the upper right side of the water goblet, which is the upper left side of the red or white wine glass, so it’s basically the top point in forming the triangle. At times, it could also be placed at the water goblet’s right side. 

Juice Glass

Sometimes, juice is not just the accompanying beverage but rather the course itself. If this is the case, then the juice glass will be placed at the center of the cover on a tiny underplate. If it is an accompanying beverage, it will be placed still at the top right of the cover. 

Normally, each drink will be served one at a time. There are some events wherein both white and red wines are served. However, in most meals, either one will be served but both glasses will be laid out on the table. Then, a server will ask the diner if he or she will prefer red or white. Whatever he or she will choose, the other wine glass will be removed. 

During dinner, depending if the following beverages are present, the sherry would be served first at the same time with soup.  Then, moving toward the main course, the white wine will be served with mostly chicken and seafood then the red wine goes with the meat dishes. Champagne is usually served last to make a special toast to denote the conclusion of the meal. 


Tablescape is an art form that is taken delicately. The placement of the  glasses alone have a lot of technicalities that need to be observed, and perhaps you may consider what kind of glasses you are going to use, whether glass or crystal. It may be easy to just lay the glasses anywhere you like, but there is a reason for such arrangement. It is important to place the glasses in a position that accommodates the guests in the most convenient and comfortable way. The best way to be a gracious host is to give your guests a taste of elegance, both in the food and the table setting. 

As a guest also, it would be best to adhere to the table manners by observing your host and the other dinner guests. Here are a few fool-proof tips to make yourself someone others would love having around their table. Here is a video you may want to watch that covers from the start to the end of the dinner that will keep you in your host’s graces.

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