Is Your (Wine) Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty?


I’ve heard a few times lately about people feeling cheated on their wine pours when ordering by the glass in restaurants. The truth is… Wine should not be filled up to the rim of your glass!


Generally speaking, a glass of wine should only be filled about halfway or less to give you the full experiencing of enjoying the wine. You want to be able to tilt the glass to look at the color, swirl the wine to watch the legs fall and open up the bouquet to release the aromas of the wine. If the glass is filled much further than that, you risk spilling it everywhere when titling and swirling.


In fact, some say that the perfect pour is a wine glass filled only to the widest part of the bowl:


Furthermore, some say that for white wine, a glass should be poured only a third of the way to reduce the risk of the wine warming up too much in the glass:

Keep your white wine chilled!

I repeat: your wine glass should never be filled more than half full!

You’ll find that restaurants incorrectly serving to the rim are often sports bars, taverns or other establishments that aren’t really serving wine to pair with food or are just offering cheap wine to have another beverage option. {In addition, the wine is often served at the wrong temperature, but I’ll save that for another post.} Furthermore, these joints are most likely serving in a smaller glass that would need to be filled to the brim in order to provide more than just a taste anyway.

In general, most restaurants serve four to five ounce pours. This is why you may sometimes see your glass less than half-full, depending on the size of the glass. Some establishments will even list their pour size on the menu, while others will offer half-pours or flights so that you have the opportunity to try more than one wine.

A 750 ml bottle of wine is approximately 25 ounces. This is why the five-ounce pour is common – five glasses equals one bottle. However, in our house, our pours are generally six ounces. Why? Six ounces per glass yields about four glasses per bottle. If Rob and I stuck to five-ounce pours, we’d always be fighting over that fifth glass! And you wouldn’t want that. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But you know what we found? If we use our Traveling Vineyard Grapeman wine glasses…

Grapeman Glass

We can get four perfect glasses out of every bottle if we fill each glass just like this:

The pour for 4 perfect glasses!

Sparkling wine is a different story. It should always be served in a Champagne flute:

Champagne Flute

Why a flute? Let’s think about what is unique about sparkling wine – the carbonation. The thin shape of the flute will showcase the bubbles as they glide up the long glass. In addition, more flutes can fit on a serving tray than other glasses. {Very helpful at a dinner party or reception!}

Look at those bubbles!

You’ve also probably seen the coupe glass {and have heard the tale of it being designed after Marie Antoinette’s breast}.

Coupe Glass

While this glass was popular in the first part of the 20th century, it is not the preferred glass these days. Why? The bubbles in it quickly dissipate because they have no where to go. In addition, it is easier to spill and will not keep the chill that a tall flute will.

How much sparkling wine should be served in a flute? I’ve found that a glass filled two-thirds to three-fourths full – about three to four ounces – is pretty standard. {It really depends on the size of the glass and the restaurant’s standard pour.} That is why if bubbly is presented by the glass, it’s a good beverage choice calorie-wise at only about 100 calories for four ounces.

Sparkling Wine Pour

However, a split of bubbly is about six ounces:

Single serving bottles are called splits.

While it the responsibility of the restaurant to keep your glass full if you have ordered a bottle, the drawback is that it can be hard to judge how much you’ve had if you are caught up in the meal and the conversation. {However, the more casual places noted above usually won’t fill it for you.}

After reading up a bit on the subject, I found that, generally speaking, a server should wait to refill until your glass is less than one-third full. And don’t be offended, because well-trained servers won’t interrupt your conversation to ask if you’d like more. Some may hesitate just before pouring to wait to see if the diner objects. You can always wave your hand over the glass if your server comes to the table and picks up the bottle with the intent to pour for everyone. Still, I’ve found that most places where I dine do ask if we’d like more before pouring. {Maybe I’m not dining at the fanciest of restaurants.}

The premise is that if the server isnโ€™t refilling your glass, you may drink more slowly. You may be reluctant to pour for yourself if everyone isn’t on pace with you. And if it’s just you and your date, you may end up with wine left in the bottle after you’ve finished your meal. Many states, including Minnesota, now have laws that allow you to take leftover wine home. The details and regulations vary from state to state in order to coincide withย open-container laws. If you’d like to check out what the laws are in your state, check out the Wine Doggy Bag.

And while open bottles are not often taken home, I highly recommend considering it to ensure that you have the highest quality wine. At most establishments, you don’t know how long a bottle of wine you’ve ordered by the glass has been open. It’s also a better value when it’s half-priced bottle of wine night!

Do you order by the glass or the bottle?



15 responses »

  1. Oh and by the way – when I am talking about servers refilling your glass without asking, that’s only when you’ve bought a bottle. Of course, if you order by the glass, they will ask you if you want to order another. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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