A festive glassware guide

With long-awaited Christmas parties on the horizon, there come all the wonderful dinners with impressive varieties of dishes, entrees, puddings… and what follows? A confusing selection of knives, spoon and forks.

While many guides out there are helping you to avoid a faux pas at the dinner table when it comes to cutlery and crockery, we’ve decided to approach this season of cheers, toasts and chin chins a little differently – with a focus on the festive drinks served. What’s the best vessel to serve your gin & tonics in? Is coupette or a flute better for champagne toasts? What is the best glass to sip whisky after dinner – and is it the same for cognac? For which drinks would you chill the glass before serving the drink in it?

Here are the common festive tipples and a simplified guide to what best serve them in:

Gin & tonic

Causing a lot of debate between highballs, tumblers and recent wave of big copa glasses (AKA gin balloon), we ultimately would opt in for a large highball that allows you to add enough ice to keep it nice and cold, and less surface area than the balloon keeps the fizz in for longer. The balloons look fancy, but due to their size and being on stem, are rather awkward to hold – and often results in adding too much tonic, thus diluting the drink.

Martinis, gimlets and short boozy drinks with no ice

These small, but potent concoctions are served chilled in a martini glass or a coupette.  Glasses with stems keep the hand away from the drink in order to prevent it becoming too warm, and it is also a great idea to put the glasses in the freezer before pouring the drink to keep it colder for longer.

Champagne & champagne cocktails

To stop sparkling wine from going flat too quickly, you’ll need a glass with less surface area to help preserve the bubbles. That’s why the flute glass, with its tall, thin bowl is better than roaring 20’s style coupette.

Wine

Red wine should be served in larger / wider glasses than white to help to swirl the wine easily and aerate it. White wine doesn’t need to aerate as much – and also won’t oxidise or get too warm too fast, retaining lighter, more delicate notes.

Whisky

For bourbon and rye whiskey, often involving a little ice addition, as well as varied whisky cocktails we’d suggest an old-fashioned tumbler. For nosing more complex flavours, like a rare Scotch, there’s a variety of nosing glasses available – from a sherry-like tulip shaped glass, Gleincarn whisky glass (tasting tulip glass with no stem) to cognac snifter (brandy balloon). These concentrate the flavours due to the tight rim – and with higher ABV spirits that can be quite a punch, so a drop of water can help too!

Liqueurs and digestives

Brandy is best served in a cognac balloon – and for other dark spirits, if in doubt your best shot is an old-fashioned tumbler. It also works for liqueurs served neat or on ice.

Port, sherry & dessert wine

These little dessert accompaniments should be served in a smaller version of a wine glass (around 15cm high). The are a little narrower and more elongated as well, keeping the aromas quite concentrated on the nose.

 

A few storing and washing tips:

Always rinse your glasses thoroughly to remove soap, it will ruin the flavour of drinks

Dry your glasses immediate to avoid water marks – also if wet glasses stored in the cupboard, it can ruin the surface and develop mould

Store glasses upside down to prevent dust collecting inside

Dust/polish your glassware before the party

Chill glasses for martinis and cocktails

In case of glass breakage – best to pick up the small shards with white bread!