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Why Do Wine Glasses Have Stems?

Rebecca Hanlon
Last Updated: February 28th, 2023

Wine glasses come in various forms, designs, and sizes, some with stems and some without stems. When you often dine at a posh restaurant or visit with friends at their home, sipping wine, your glass has a stem.

There is a reason for the wine glass to have a stem, though most people take these stems for granted and never ask why do wine glasses have stems. Let us investigate and find out.

History of the Wine Glass

history of wine glasses

For centuries, people have enjoyed drinking wine. The tradition of using the stem on a glass of wine started in the 1400s. The first stemmed glass originated in Venice, the capital of glassblowing and glass making.

People drank wine from wood, pewter, leather, or clay cups during this time. Stemware never entered anyone’s mind while they enjoyed their wine. In 1450, glassmaker Angelo Barovier invented Cristallo glass on the Murano, the island of glass, Venice.

The colorless appearance and look of glassware changed, enhancing the appearance of anyone who drank from such a piece of art. The style of the wine glass comes from the design of the chalice used for religious purposes. Amen!

It was during the 18th century when stemmed glassware achieved popularity thanks to the booming glassware trade of artisans. Holding a stemmed wine glass represented status. If you saw someone drinking wine with a stemmed glass, you thought they were wealthy.

Today, glass makers have shaped many designs for wine glasses, with each one trendy. Nonetheless, wine glasses with stems have prevailed thanks to offering something beyond status.

Why Do Wine Glasses Have Stems?

wine glasses have stems

Ever since the stem design has become the standard for sipping wine, another exciting aspect of a wine glass with a stem is that holding the glass by the stem doesn’t warm the contents. Thus, it keeps the wine from overheating and stays at room temperature or chilled.

Maintain the wine’s temperature from storing the wine until sipping is essential. That way, all the flavors, and aromas remain in their ultimate state of enjoyment.

As science will tell you, your hands are sometimes the warmest part of your body. Thus, the stem enables you to grip the glass while letting the contents of the wine remain at the ideal temperature.

Otherwise, the body heat from the hands will cause the alcohol taste to overpower all aromas, flavors, and the ultimate finish.

Another aspect to consider is while holding the bowl of wine. You’re creating smudges on the glass. As a result, the divine beauty of colons, hues, and light radiating through the glass becomes ruined by fingerprint smears on the glass. Thus, the presentation, an essential feature of appreciating wine, becomes dull and unappealing.

Swirl the Wine with the Stem

swirl the wine with the stem

Swirling the wine in the glass is one more delightful ritual that people enjoy doing to capture the delightful aromas of the wine.

With the stemmed wine glass, you have an easier time swirling the wine while noticing the different colons and textures of the wine. You admire the red or white wine, whiff, and then sip.

The stem helps you swirl slowly, avoiding any possible spills because it’s more stable.

Stemmed Wine Glasses Etiquette

stemmed wine glasses etiquette

The customary code of drinking wine hints at using a stemmed wine glass because there are correct ways to hold a wine glass. Most of the ways to hold a wine glass involve the application of the stem as explained earlier.

Stemless Wine Glasses

stemless wine glasses

Nowadays, there are stemless wine glasses, and it appears we’ve regressed to before the glassblowers and glassmakers of Venice moved to the island of Murano.

Though still of glass, there are no stems. Some debated the benefits of having no stems on the wine glasses because the design has a strictly practical purpose. And unfortunately, these stemless wine glasses have become a trendy spotlight in bars, restaurants, and homes.

Stemless wine glasses offer easy storage thanks to the absence of the stem. You can place them in the cupboards and dishwasher without the awkwardness of the stems getting in the way.

Stems are fragile, breaking quickly when not properly stored or handled. Another added benefit is these wine glasses are durable and offer an easy grip.

You will see more fingerprint smears and smudges, similar to everyday glassware. Stemless wine glasses also have a casualness, so being customary with the traditional stemmed glass is unnecessary. Use these bowl glasses at a barbecue or picnic for easy handling and drinking of red or white wine.

Some say having the stemless glass helps the red wine taste better by warming the wine with the hands. Still, it depends on the red because it works well with a port or fortified wine.

As mentioned earlier, you don’t want to serve wine too warm because it leads to tasting only the wine’s alcohol and bitterness.

Final Thoughts

Wine is synonymous with elegance but can lean toward casual gatherings like picnics, barbecues, and tailgate parties. Enjoying a high-quality wine, red or white, means taking the time to serve it properly in a stemmed wine glass – a traditional and artistic way to relish your moment.

When you hold a wine glass by the stem, you carry the tradition of our ancestors, who originally designed the wine glass after the chalice. Nothing can stop you or someone else from using a stemless wine glass because it’s a preference.

The stem fulfills the etiquette and maintains the wine’s notes, aromas, and finish. You can even admire the visuals upon each swirl as the natural light captures the color and shades of wine.

Some will argue that it’s only natural that you want to use a stemmed wine glass because of the length it takes a winemaker to craft the perfect glass of wine.

About The Author

Rebecca Hanlon

Rebecca has been a blogger for over 5 years, before that enjoying a number of jobs to fund her passion for travel. She's taught English as a foreign language, a part-time Barista, a waitress, and a tour guide.

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