Different Types of Glassware

Are you a professional bartender or restaurant waitstaff? Are you someone eager to host his first party? If so, understanding the different types of glassware can spell success for your career or your party-hosting stint. 

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Glassware Styles

The art and science of making glass dates back as far as 3,600 BC in Mesopotamia. However, modern glass production was discovered in 1674 by George Ravenscroft who is also essentially a forerunner in modern crystal glass production. No wonder, Ravenscroft crystal glasses are still among the most respected the world over. 

When it was first made, only the affluent could afford glassware, given its price. Since then, glassware production has undergone major innovations, giving us the many glassware we know of today. 

Here’s a rundown of the basic glassware that we may encounter at least once during our lifetime. 

Everyday Use Glasses

Everyday use glasses are usually used during meals. They have the lowest price point of all the glasswares listed here since they are facing the highest likeability to be broken, especially with kids. Tumblers are the most common choice for these glasses. 

Another thing to consider are the other dishes. If you are using plates with intricate design or painting, your best choice for glassware is a plain one so it will not clash with the design of your dinnerware. 

Wine Stemware

For stemware, you can purchase one set for everyday use and another set for special occasions or when you have company. Everyday use of stemware is more on the practical side (read: less expensive universal glasses) while special occasion glasses can be more expensive and more appropriate for the wine or liquor you are serving. 

Red Wine

Red wine glasses come in a variety of styles, especially if you take into consideration the grape varietal specialty wine glasses. However, for practicality purposes, connoisseurs and sommeliers recommend having a Bordeaux, Pinot Noir or cabernet wine glass since these glasses are more suited to almost all wines. 

The most important feature of a red wine glass is the big bowl and slightly tapering rim. This design allows air to move freely inside the wine glass, getting the wine to breathe so the aromas and flavors are released. Tannins and sulfites are also dissipated with the mixing of air with the wine.

Decanting is a good way to let the wine breathe. On the other hand, aerating can hasten the decanting process but does not necessarily improve the taste of wine. Decanting the wine can also remove sediments from the wine, making your wine glass look cleaner. 

White Wine

For white wine glasses, the choice of the glass is also important for the same reason that the right glass brings out the nuances of the wine, highlighting its delicate aromas and flavor. Delicate white wines are best served in an all-purpose white wine glass that is slightly smaller than the standard red wine glass. 

Full-bodied white wines are better served in wine glasses that are more U-shaped. To serve both the light and full-bodied wines, a standard white wine glass is your best choice.

However, if you prefer a single wine varietal, you might as well buy a varietal-specific wine glass so the nuances of your particular wines are enhanced. 

Other Types

Aside from the standard wine glasses, there are also other types of wines that need attention when choosing and buying glassware. Wines needing special attention are port, sherry, and Madeira which are dessert wines. The glasses of these wines are usually smaller than the regular wine glass although the shape is not much different. 

For the Sauternes which is an overly expensive wine, you can just imagine how a fungus that was thought to destroy a vineyard could actually produce grapes that would give this type of wine. Riedel makes a specialty glass for this varietal that emphasizes the acidity of the wine to even out its sweetness. The glass had a V-shaped bowl that tapers gradually on the upper half of the glass into a small rim. 

Water Goblet

Water goblets have a stockier and shorter stem and a deeper bowl so it stands mostly at the same height with a standard wine glass. For that matter, wine glasses have a slimmer, longer stem and the bowl is more distinct compared to a water goblet. 

As a guest, the water goblet is the first stemware to be filled as you arrive so there is no confusion to it. If you are a host, a water goblet is used in a more formal setting. 

Barware Glasses

When we take barware into consideration, it is amazing how the subsections here are actually a separate article in itself if we are to discuss each glass in the barware category.    

Beer Glasses

Beer glassware is a league in itself. With the numerous beer styles and types, it’s no wonder that beer glasses want to vie with wine glasses in terms of designs available. The more common glasses are the weizen, pilsner, pint, nonic, stange, and the ubiquitous beer mug. Let us not forget also the stemmed beer glasses which are sturdier than wine glasses and the ridiculous yard beer glass and boot glass.  Get a more detailed lowdown on beer glasses here.  

Liqueur Glasses

Liqueur and cordial glasses are tiny glasses that are used to serve, well, liqueurs and cordials. The capacity of these stemmed glasses range from 1oz (30ml) to 4.5oz (130ml). Grappa, a tulip-shaped stemmed glassware with a capacity of less than 4 ounces is an example of this type of glasses. 

Liqueurs, not to be confused with liquors, include Amaretto, Kahlua, Vermouth, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and absinthe to name a few. The list of liqueurs seems endless but the truth remains that they are not only for mixing cocktails. 

Cordials, on the other hand, can be both alcoholic or non-alcoholic. When it has alcohol, it usually has a high alcohol content. They are meant to be served as a medicinal tonic and are usually sweet and syrupy in consistency. Since they are usually sweet, they are served in small glasses as they are meant to accompany dessert. 

Specialty Glasses

It may feel weird if the bartender serves you a piña colada in a highball glass since we are all familiar with the hurricane or poco grande glass. The difference between the two may not be as pronounced as a bar connoisseur might be. Among the more known specialty glasses are the coupe, martini glass, Collins glass, highball glass, hurricane glass, Irish coffee glass, and shot glass. Worthy to mention is the plain pint glass which can be used with a bigger Boston shaker tin if the smaller tin is not available.. 

Buying Guide

Before you jump into buying your glassware, check out the tips listed here so you can be more informed. 


When buying glassware, consider its use. If it is meant for daily use, go for the sturdier type with thicker bottom and sides. Everyday use glasses should also be easier to clean, meaning it can go into the dishwasher and do not have crannies that may harbor leftover drinks, ingredients or coloring. Think also of the age of the kids who may be using it also. For daily use, we would prefer short and wide glasses since they are the easiest to wash and dry.


When buying glasses, consider also the material. For your water glasses, soda-lime glasses are the most common since they are cheap, thick and dishwasher-safe. Borosilicate glasses are a better choice for everyday use glasses since they have the luster of crystal and have high resistance to temperature changes which makes it a good glass bakeware. Because of this, borosilicate glasses are safe to wash in the dishwasher even with heat drying setting. 


Unless you care for mismatched glassware, you can go for unique glasses. A pop of color and unique design can highlight your collection but if each piece is different from the rest then it should stay in your display cupboard as just part of a collection if it goes out of circulation.

When buying glassware, consider your time and enthusiasm for washing them. If your cleaning energy level is close to zero and you would rather dishwash everything, then find glasses that can withstand the rigors of the dishwasher detergent, wash pressure, and heat. When using the dishwasher, set it to air dry since the heat tends to build up detergent residue, resulting in lackluster glasses. 

Whether your glasses are washed by hand or in a dishwasher, one of the top concerns are soap residue and water spots. Soap residue is a no-no since it can mean wasting your precious wine. Water spots usually result when glassware is left to dry on its own. After some water dripped from it, use a soft cloth that does not leave lint on the glass to wipe it dry. Use one microfiber towel to hold the glass while the other is used to wipe it dry so you don’t leave smudges on the clean glass. 


If you are buying a wine glass, you best bet are thin glasses since the thickness of the wine glass is known to affect the taste of the wine. The thinner the wine glass, the less in the way it is so it brings the wine into the most appropriate part of your mouth. 

Another you have to consider when buying stemware is color. Clear stemware is more preferable for wines, liquors, and beer since it displays the unique and appealing color of the drink. 

Size is another thing you have to consider. Research shows that people tend to consume more alcohol from bigger glasses than from smaller ones. This is because they think that they are having the same servings when in fact a bigger glass may have 1-2 ounces more than the smaller glass. 


Crystal glassware has an allure of its own, especially with its intricate designs and cut. When using crystal glassware for the first time, wash it with salt and white vinegar to leach out some lead, if it is a lead crystal. If it is vintage, it is likely to be a lead crystal. Also, don’t store your wine, liquors, and anything with alcohol in crystal containers, including decanters. 


Choose a set of glassware that fits your budget. There is no reason of buying an expensive set of stemware and using it to serve cheap wine. Determine a price point you are comfortable with. Glasses from more reputable glass manufacturers are usually a bit pricier than less known manufacturers, especially if you are planning to buy specialty glasses. Prepare to pay between $25-50 per set of 2 wine glasses and more if you prefer crystal stemware. The same is true for other glasswares. 


Hosting a party for the first time is your initiation into the party scene. Having the right information as to the different types of glasses will save you a lot of embarrassment. Confidence is a must for a successful party host and the right knowledge will give you that kind of confidence. 

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