Dear winemaker: How do I pick out a wine glass?

Published by The Naked Narrators - 18th Aug 2020

Looking to enjoy your wine to the fullest? According to nakedwines.com winemaker Alex Farber, it all starts with the right glassware.

When it comes to serving, aging, enjoying and making wine, independent winemakers are the ultimate experts here at nakedwines.com. 

That’s why we love to pick their brains about everything.

When it comes to specific wares, indie winemaker Alex Farber has especially incredible pro-tips and glass recommendations – including a few specific items you can get from our site and classic shops too. Image by Emma K. Morris.

Whether that’s asking how long to age a wine…

…if splashing out on Champagne is worth it
(answer: always)

or if glassware – like flutes, tall-stemmed glasses, and decanters – really change the way wine tastes!
(answer: YES! They do!)

We asked winemaker Alex Farber to give us the lowdown on glassware – and she did so with a wide grin, a darling dog, and Angel-favorite wines by her side.


Settle in with a glass of your favorite easy sipper – because this all-star winemaker is serving up a delicious dose of glassware knowledge! 

Which glasses are wine lover essentials?

For white wines, opt for an all-purpose style with a long stem 

“Classic stemware should be a staple in your house. Look for glasses with an all-purpose shape to use for any white wine you’re opening up and serving.”

Pictured: Miriam Alexandra California Chenin Blanc for nakedwines.com – and the Camille 13 oz. Long Stem Wine Glass – White, crateandbarrel.com. Image by Emma K. Morris.

An all-purpose shape and long stem are fantastic for fuller-bodied white wines and Rosé.

These glasses will help open up the aromas and flavors of the wines – and the long stem stops your hands from warming up the glass, so the wines stay cold.

Joining nakedwines.com after a career working for big established Napa Valley wineries like Pine Ridge Vineyards has given Alex the appreciation for classic California wines and the inspiration to add her own personal style and twist.

“My Reserve Chenin Blanc is a special single-vineyard edition that’s very close to my heart,” she said. “It’s barrel-fermented in neutral French Oak, harvested from Prince Vineyard in Clarksburg. The average age of the vines is over 30 years old!” Image by Emma K. Morris.


And as for Champagne…

“A great flute (or a coupe) is worth the investment and brings out the vibrant, bustling flavors of sparkling wines. Bubbly is meant to be fun – the glass should be, too!”

Alex Farber serves Wayne Donaldson Eponina Brut in a set of classic flute glasses from Crate & Barrel. Image by Emma K. Morris, 2020.
Alex Farber serves Wayne Donaldson Eponina Brut in a set of classic flute glasses from Crate & Barrel. Image by Emma K. Morris.

Keeping a set of Champagne flutes on hand is just good sense – a few friends come over, the glasses come out… and suddenly it’s a party!

If you’re looking for extra style, opt for a coupe! Otherwise known as a Champagne saucer, a coupe is a stemmed glass made popular in the 1930s when big, lavish parties and Champagne towers were all the rage. It’s still a classic choice!

For someone who’s looking to add character to their bar collection, you can find vintage coupes from your local antique shop or an Etsy vendor too.

For really aromatic reds like Pinot Noir, opt for a big, round glass

Pictured: Scott Kelley Oregon Pinot Noir for nakedwines.com – and the Camille 23 oz. Long Stem Wine Glass – Red, crateandbarrel.com. Image by Emma K. Morris.

“Wines like Oregon Pinot open up beautifully in this style of glassware, giving this delicate style of wine a chance to really show off and flood your nose with all kinds of incredible aromas.”


For full-effect aromas in wines like Willamette Pinot Noir, it’s great to have big, round glasses with a large surface area. You’ll really get a sense of all the flavor and character that way.

Scott’s 94% rated Pinot for nakedwines.com is sourced from a selection of his favorite vineyards across Oregon – including Umpqua and Willamette Vallleys.

For big and decadent wines like Napa Cabernet, try a tapered glass

…and give the wine extra time to “breathe” after you pour!

“You can use a decanter for Napa Cab, but often I’m too lazy to get my decanter out. So I’ll just open the bottle about an hour or two before I’m planning to drink it and it opens the wine up really nicely.”

Pictured: Miriam Alexandra Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for nakedwines.com – and the Oregon Red Wine Glass, crateandbarrel.com. Image by Emma K. Morris.


Wines like rich Cabernet get more delicious with time in the glass (and cupping the glass to warm them a bit will encourage more flavors to come out – try it!)


To decant, or not decant? 

“For rich reds, yes! And make sure it’s a centerpiece on your table with friends.”

Decanting big red wines can enhance wine’s natural aromas and open up its richest flavors. Alex pours Stefano di Blasi’s Toscana Gold into a decanter and waits – patiently. Image by Emma K. Morris.

Don’t be intimidated by a decanter. It’s actually an incredibly useful tool when you want to let a full bottle of wine open up with its richest flavors and aromas.

Not all wines have to be decanted – stick to richer reds – and make sure it’s a centerpiece on your table with friends. 

Pictured: Stefano di Blasi Toscana Gold for nakedwines.com. Image by Emma K. Morris.

If you’re not sure if a wine should be decanted, do a taste test!

1. Start by tasting the wine straight from the bottle

If there is very little fruit when you smell or taste the wine, or it’s hard to identify aromas, this means the wine is what winemakers call “closed.”

It would benefit from fresh air (think about how long that wine’s been stored in a little bottle, with no added oxygen) – cue decanting!

2. Try it again immediately after decanting

Winemakers will tell you to leave a wine in the decanter for an hour. Then taste it again.

If the wine hasn’t changed much, give the decanter a gentle swirl then keep waiting (30 minutes to 1 hour more). 

3. Ready now? If the wine is ready…

It will be noticeably more pleasant and aromatic. It will even have a softer, rounder texture when you take a sip. 

You should be able to smell its brightest flavors – like tropical or stone fruits, floral aromas, or juicy blackberries and raspberries – and if it’s barrel-aged, maybe even a little char or spice!

Alex’s goldendoodle and “vineyard dog” Fletcher approves of her serving suggestions. High fives all around for decanting that red! Image by Emma K. Morris.

Stay connected with Alex for more winemaker tips and advice

Follow Alex Farber on nakedwines.com and on Instagram at @AlexandraFarber to read her latest updates from Napa and Clarksburg.

You’ll catch many glimpses of her in the vineyard these days – waiting to “call the pick” and harvest the grapes for her 2020 vintage wines (including her Best in Class Chenin Blanc) for Angels!

Build up your own collection of wines…

Become an Angel. Nakedwines.com Angels get world-class wines for everyday prices by supporting winemakers directly!

As an Angel, you’ll save up to 60% on wines like Scott Kelley’s Oregon Pinot, Stefano di Blasi’s Toscana Gold, and Alex’s Napa Cabernet – all featured scrumptiously above.

and your own collection of glassware, too!

Ready to start building up your glassware collection? Now’s the perfect time!
Image by Crate & Barrel

Click here to get the collection of glassware (and decanter – Alex says it’s worth the investment!) featured in this post from crateandbarrel.com.

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