The Little Secret to Pouring the Right Amount of Wine (No Matter What Glass It’s In)

published Dec 9, 2016
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(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Wine glasses can be confusing. Beyond the basics — with stems or without, white wine and red wine — there are glasses for specific varietals. A Cabernet glass is different from a Bordeaux glass, and while most white wine glasses are more tapered, a Burgundy glass (ideal for Chardonnay and Gruner Veltliner) has a very generous bowl. Who can keep all that straight?

But here’s a little secret I’ll let you in on: None of this matters when it comes to how much wine to pour. Practically every wine glass has a simple way of showing you how much wine it should hold; once you see it you’ll realize how obvious it is!

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Why Your Wine Pour Is Important

Now, you might be thinking, what do you mean, “right amount of wine”? The best wine glass is a full wine glass, right? But the volume of wine in a glass (i.e., how much you pour) is very important — even more important than the shape of the glass. (In fact, when it comes to shape, one wine glass really can fit all.)

The reason volume is more important is simple: In order to elevate the flavors and aromas of wine, you want to expose it to air. This task is easily accomplished in a properly filled glass, but nearly impossible in one that’s too full or too empty.

And luckily, glassware makers have incorporated an invisible measuring stick that makes perfect pouring a cinch.

Here’s the trick: Fill your glass only to the widest part of the bowl.

While the serving size might look meager, rest assured it’s not. Most wine glasses hold eight to 12 ounces — and many bowl-shaped glasses are large enough to hold an entire bottle of vino! The widest point of a glass tends to coincide with the five- to six-ounce mark (i.e., a standard serving).

Using this invisible measuring stick makes serving wine to a crowd a cinch. You’ll get the full five servings from every bottle, and over-pouring becomes history.

The widest point of a glass tends to coincide with the five- to six-ounce mark (i.e., a standard serving).

Why You Should Only Fill Glasses This Much

Pouring to that mark does more than measure. Filling to this point — usually about a third of the way to the brim — gives ample room for swirling the wine in your glass while avoiding the spills that come with swirling a full glass.

And before you say swirling is snobby — it’s not! It actually has a purpose. Swirling aerates the wine (better than any aerator does, by the way), enhancing the aromas and flavors in the bottle. Real talk: Your wine will smell and taste better. Think of it like throwing open the windows of the attic to air it out.

The One Exception

Apply this rule to all traditional wine glasses, with one exception: Champagne flutes. That’s because flutes are designed to show off festive bubbles instead of accentuating aromas (although if you’re drinking Champagne out of a wider-mouthed glass, by all means, follow this rule and swirl away).