a Cuban cigar on a snifter glass of brandy

Does Size Matter? Why Brandy Glasses Are So Big

a Cuban cigar on a snifter glass of brandy

A brandy glass is a type of stemware similar to a wine glass but shorter. Although commonly used to serve any spirit and various cocktails, brandy glasses are mostly associated with aged brown liquors such as whiskey, bourbon, cognac, brandy, and other fortified wines.

Brandy glasses are traditionally crafted from delicately fine crystal with a large, curvy bowl. With the intentionally voluminous bowl, the brandy glass provides ample room for the liquor’s aromas and flavors to unfold, allowing drinkers to get a sniff of the drink with each sip.

The Design and Science Behind Brandy Glasses

Splash of brandy in snifter glass

The brandy glass is specially designed to achieve two purposes: to enable the brandy’s aromas to evaporate and concentrate

Featuring a wide vessel, this drinking glass offers a generous surface area, which gives the aromatic compounds plenty of space to waft off the liquor. On the other hand, the narrow top traps these compounds inside the glass to prevent them from scattering in all directions, intensifying the aromas’ concentration.

Even the short stem and rounded bottom of the brandy glass is no coincidence. It is engineered that way so the drinker can cup the glass in his hand between the fingers, warming the liquor in the process and enhancing the drinker’s multi-sensory experience while drinking.

How Big Are Brandy Glasses?

Man Holding a Snifter With Dark Liquor

Although most brandy glasses have a capacity of approximately 180-240ml, it is customary to pour only a small amount of brandy when using these glasses. 

You don’t have to fill them up to their maximum capacity. When accurately filled, a proper brandy glass can be positioned on its sides on a level surface without spilling any liquid.

Brandy Glass’s Many Names

The brandy glass has been called many names, but it is most popularly known as a snifter. Aptly coined for this short-stemmed and plump glass, the term snifter came from an obsolete Scottish and northern English word snift, which means “to sniff or snivel.” 

The long list of monikers for brandy glass also includes brandy bowl, cognac glass, balloon, and brandy snifter.

What About Pipe Snifter?

Snifter comes in different forms. There are deviations from the standard snifter, which often involves a beak-like spout that protrudes from one edge. Pipe snifter is one of these deviants. It is characterized by an elongated pour spout that works like a straw, making it look like a tea kettle.


With its big size and perfectly curved shape, a brandy glass or snifter brings out the best in your favorite brown liquor, whether it's brandy, cognac, or whiskey. The brandy glass stimulates the drinker’s olfactory senses by allowing the aroma to evaporate and concentrate, ensuring a more enhanced drinking experience.

Let us know your experience in using a brandy glass by leaving a comment down below.


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