Why Do Wine Glasses Have Stems? (Explained)

Traditional wine glasses have three parts: the bowl, the stem, and the base. Each of these has its functions that can affect your wine drinking experience. 

The stem and its height can be critical to your wine drinking. The stem is where you hold the wine glass.

Here Is How The Stem Affects Your Wine Drinking Experience: 

The stem is where you should hold the glass. Your hands radiate heat, so if you hold the glass directly at the bowl, your hands will warm up the wine. This can be a problem because white wine and sparkling wine are best enjoyed when cool or below room temperature.

What Is The Purpose Of The Stem On A Wine Glass? 

Since the stem help prevents your hand from projecting heat to your wine glass, the purpose of the stem is to keep your wine at an ideal temperature. 

When you hold glasses by the stem, your hand is away from the bowl, meaning that the temperature from your hand does not warm the wine. It helps keep your wine at the ideal temperature so that you can enjoy it better. 

Another purpose of the stem is to swirl the wine glass. While swirling the wine glass is common, it is not required.

Wine drinkers swirl their glasses to invigorate the aromas within the glass to help heighten the flavors. 

Do Stems On Wine Glasses Affect The Taste? 

Stems on wine glasses do not affect the taste of the wine. Just because your wine glasses have stems does not mean it would make the wine taste better. 

Swirling the glasses affects the taste of the wine, though this does not mean that you cannot swirl stemless wine glasses. 

You can swirl wine glasses without stems. It’s just that it looks more classy and elegant to swirl stemmed wine glasses compared to stemless ones. 

What Was The Initial Function Of The Stem? 

In the early days, wines were drunk from vessels closely resembled soup bowls. These vessels are slightly curved, with flat bottoms and flared rims. 

When glass blowing was discovered around the 3rd century AD, the Romans made the first wine glasses. They came with bowls similarly shaped like the wine glasses we have today, but they had no stems.

As decades and centuries passed, the design of wine glasses evolved to have stems, but they were shorter than what we were accustomed to.

The stems were initially added for elegance, as they did look more aesthetically pleasing than the stemless glasses and vessels back then. 

It was in the 1700s that the stems got longer. Apart from looking more elegant than shorter stems, people realized that they have a function to help keep wine at ideal temperatures. 

What Are Stemless Wine Glasses Used For? 

Designers introduced stemless wine glasses for practicality. While stemmed wine glasses are more stylish and elegant-looking, they may be risky to use at crowded events or gatherings. 

Wine glasses with long thin stems tend to be more fragile and tip over. Thus, they tend to break or crack more easily. 

Stemless wine glasses are used for practicality – especially when the party host does not want to risk their wine glasses being broken.

Stemless wine glasses are more stable and less prone to being tipped over while still retaining the same shape that is ideal for enhancing the flavors and aromas of the wine. 

The only disadvantage to using stemless wine glasses is that your hand can warm up the wine faster. Avoid touching your glass when you are not drinking your wine. 

Plus, with more brands and designs coming up, stemless wine glasses have evolved to look elegant enough to be used even for formal gatherings. 

Why Do Some Wine Glasses Have Such Long Stems? 

Some wine glasses have longer stems compared to other wine glasses. This is because they are made for certain types of wine best served cool. 

For example, white wine glasses have longer stems than red wine glasses. This is because white wines are best when they are below room temperature.

Thus, they need longer stems so that your hand is as far from the bowl as possible to prevent it from projecting warmth to the bowl. 

On the other hand, red wines are best enjoyed when they are a bit warm, so red wine glasses do not normally have longer stems. 

Glasses for Champagne and Prosecco, also types of wine, tend to have longer stems than other wine glasses. This is because these sparkling wines are best enjoyed when they are cool. 

Stems serve a purpose for wine glasses, but stemless wine glasses have their benefits. Whether you would get stemmed wine glasses or stemless ones depends on your preferences. 


Ask Adam: Why Do Wine Glasses Have Stems? 

Why Do Wine Glasses Have Stems? 

The History Of The Wine Glass 

What Are Stemless Wine Glasses?