The 'Right' Way to Hold a Wine Glass

Hold that glass of red like you’re royalty, not peasantry.

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Wine knowledge and the culture that surrounds it can feel like an exclusive club at times. As a novice continuing to expand her wine horizons and general know-how, it can be overwhelming how technical things can get. From how wine is made all the way down to how you hold your glass, every decision you make can affect the sipping experience.

Have you ever held a wine glass and felt as if your grip on it was just... unnatural? Something about the way your fingers curled on a specific part of the glass felt clumsy and made it harder to take a drink. There are a lot of ways to hold a wine glass; hell, balance it on your head if you’re feeling bold, but I doubt you’d have an easy time drinking that way.

There are certain ways to hold the glass so that you get everything intended out of the wine. What follows are not the actual names for ways to hold a wine glass; they’re just more fun this way.

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The altar server

This method means using both hands to cup the bowl of the glass like Oliver Twist and bring it to your mouth. One of the pros to this technique is that you can chug the wine like someone who spent 10 years in the desert and just found an oasis.

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As you take down giant gulps of wine, don’t be embarrassed by the streams of it also running down the sides of your cheek and neck. The biggest downside to this method? More wine dripping down your face means less wine in your mouth.

The goblet clutch

This technique is similar to the altar server, except this way only requires one hand. Unfortunately, this method can work against your enjoyment of the wine. By gripping the bowl of the glass this way, the body heat coming off your hand is warming the wine quicker. Plus, your fingerprints will smudge the glass, and no one thinks smudge-covered glasses are classy.

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On the bright side, if you stand up and propose a toast while holding the glass this way, you’ll resemble a member of royalty. Bonus points if you yell, “Huzzah” as you clink glasses with others. (Seriously, though, reserve this grip for complex red wine, which can stand to be slightly warmed.)

The stem pinch

The most common and (depending on the wine) best way to hold a wine glass involves pinching its stem between your fingers. There are actually two styles of “the stem pinch” that you can use to demonstrate optimal sophistication.

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First, you can use your index finger and thumb to pinch high up on the glass stem while the rest of your fingers just naturally curl around it. This technique is probably the easiest of the options because your hands seem to just naturally know what to do.

The other way is almost the exact same, but instead of the fingers curling around the stem, they rest on the base of the glass, anchoring against the bowl without warming it too much.

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No matter the grip, keep the pinky out if you want to feel sophisticated. Have you ever seen someone drink something with their pinky out and not look fancy? No, you haven’t, because the pinky is crucial to achieving a classy image.

All techniques aside, you can chug your wine out of a teapot so long as it’s an enjoyable experience for you. Truthfully, no one will be judging you for how you hold the glass. Like everything wine-related, it’s just a way to make drinking the stuff more enjoyable.

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