John Fischer assistant professor in table service at the Culinary Institute of America, and Andy Ersfeld, assistant manager of the retail shop at Chateau Ste. Michelle winery in Washington State, offer a few guidelines for choosing glasses that will happily accompany most wines.
Choose clear glass, and avoid etching. When you taste wine, Fischer explains, "You want to be able to look through the glass and see a puddle of wine on a white background." Clear glass allows you to concentrate on the wine's color, which can tell you about its style and potential for aging among other clues to its qualities.
Get a glass that holds at least 8 to 10 ounces and feels comfortable in your hand. The glass should be big enough to hold the wine as you swirl it to release its aroma. The glass should also feel balanced as you hold it by the stem. Some very large glasses may feel top heavy. Keep in mind, says Ersfeld, that when you serve wine you should fill the glass only about a third full, leaving plenty of room for swirling and sniffing.
Make sure the bowl of your glass — the part that holds the wine — is bigger at the bottom and tapers toward the top, something like the bottom half of a teardrop. This directs the aroma of the wine toward your nose. Avoid glasses that are wider at the top than they are at the bottom, such as martini glasses. They won't hold the wine if you swirl it and the aromas will slip out the sides. If you like sparkling wines, consider buying a set of Champagne flutes. The long, narrow shape of these glasses conserves the bubbles and shows them off.
Once you have a basic glass, consider adding more to your collection. At home, Ersfeld keeps two types of glasses for red wines (a Bordeaux glass and a Burgundy glass), a slightly smaller glass for white wines, and Champagne flutes. Fischer has Bordeaux and Burgundy glasses and Champagne flutes, too. But ask him which glasses he uses most often and he says his everyday choice is a less expensive glass he buys at Ikea.
After all, you can drink wine from "anything that will hold liquid," Fischer says. "So keep it simple, and don't go nuts about it."