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Guide to Wine

Learn everything you need to know about wine, from grape varietals and growing regions to tasting, serving and pairing with food.

Varietals Glassware Tasting Pairing

The tall, narrow shape of a flute is ideal for sparkling wines, because it preserves the wine's bubbles and pushes them up the glass, creating a beautiful presentation.

Best for:
Champagne, Champagne-style sparkling wines, Prosecco, Cava

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This all-purpose glass is ideal for lighter wines such as crisp whites and rosés. Its straight sides and smaller opening hold in delicate, subtle aromas, such as floral and citrus notes.

Best for:
Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Albariño, Grüner Veltliner, Viognier, Semillon, Chenin Blanc, lighter rosé wines

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A balloon-shaped glass is perfect for capturing the complex characteristics of a light or medium-bodied red wine, such as a red Burgundy. The ample bowl allows plenty of space for swirling and sniffing, while the narrow rim holds in and maximizes the aromas.

Best for:
Pinot Noir, Barbera, Gamay, Dolcetto

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The wide mouth of this glass releases a broad range of aromas from full-bodied white wines. The shape ensures that your palate will pick up the wine's acidity and help you appreciate the balance of fruit flavors.

Best for:
Chardonnay and fuller rosé wines

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This is the ultimate all-around glass, versatile enough for all but the lightest styles of wine. Its straighter sides allow plenty of contact with air so the wine can breathe and develop, while directing wine to the center of the palate to moderate the tannins in red Bordeaux and other similar varietals.

Best for:
Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Tempranillo

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This unique shape brings out the complexity of the world's finest wines. The slightly flared rim highlights fruit flavors by directing wine toward the tip of the tongue. It's suited for fuller-bodied reds, such as your most-prized or longest-aged bottles.

Best for:
Nebbiolo, Barolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Australian Shiraz, Priorat

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Stemless wine glasses, or wine tumblers, are perfect for everyday use and relaxed entertaining, such as at an alfresco dinner. These all-purpose glasses are less formal than stemmed glasses and can even be used to serve water when set next to stemmed glasses. You can decide how to serve wine at home based on the atmosphere you want to create.

Some red wines, particularly bold ones, benefit from being exposed to air to soften their tannins. A good way to aerate wines is to pour the wine into a decanter. Decanting allows older wines achieve full clarity and true color, while young vintages have a chance to open and develop. When purchasing a decanter, choose one made of clear glass that is lightweight enough to pass around the table.

Stemware Buying Guide Q&A with our Sommeliers Shop Stemware Shop Williams-Sonoma Wine