Stingy or not? Why you should not fill a wine glass to the brim

4. April 2019 • News • Views: 60

Yesterday evening, my six year old daughter asked me why I filled only so little red wine in our guests’ glasses. As a good host, she argued, it would make life much easier to fill the glass to the brim so that I don’t have to care about the empty glasses too often.

A simple but eminently reasonable question. So, why do we pour only a relatively little portion of wine in the glass and what actually is a “standard” pour?

There are some good reasons not to fill the wine all the way to the top:

  • The wine needs oxygen and space above to allow the bouquet to unfold and to taste the flavors and aromas.
  • A filled-up wine glass is heavy and it is difficult to hold the long and thin stem of your glass.
  • The wine warms up faster in the glass than in the bottle. It would not be worthwhile the efforts of serving the wine well-tempered.
  • A full glass of wine encourages to drinking the wine instead of enjoying it.

In a restaurant there is a simple rule of thumb of pouring a wine by glass. A bottle of wine contains 7.5 dl (just over 25 ounces) so it is common to portioned it out into 5 servings. Some restaurants also pour a generous serving of 180ml – a nice gesture when you are paying by glass.

What is the “correct” amount of wine in the glass?

For you as a good host, an easy rule of thumb is to fill the glass to the widest part of the bowl.

Serving Red Wines

A “standard” Red Wine glass should be filled by about one third and a large capacious wine glass (e.g. for a Burgundy wine) only by one quarter.

In general, how high you fill your red wine glass depends also on the occasion – whether you are in a casual or in a professional setting. In most professional tasting events, sommeliers serve red wines in a wide-mouthed glass that’s no more than one-quarter full. This gives you plenty of space to swirl the wine, helps release its aromatics and doesn’t let your wine warm up to much before you’ve finished it.

Serving White Wines

A white wine glass should be filled not more than half-full. This leaves enough space to swirl the wine in the glass without risking a spill and let enough oxygen in the glass.

Serving Champagne

Champagne can be filled almost to the top of the glass. Whether a “flûte” is the right glass to serve Champagne is a matter of taste. There are experts saying that Champagne tastes better if it is exposed to a bit more oxygen than a narrow flûte can provide. I would recommend to serve Champagne in a flûte or narrow white wine glass and fill it about 3/4 of the way full to keep the bubbles lively.

Although there is a certain “etiquette” and recommendations of how high you should fill your wine glass, try it out and find your preferred way of serving wine.

Let me know what works best for you, I am curious about your experiences!


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