Glass Etiquette 6 Rules: How To Use Drinking Glasses Right

Follow the most important glass etiquette rules to use drinking glasses the right way. Be the ideal host or the perfect guest.

What glass etiquette is

Glass etiquette is the set of rules to properly use drinking glasses. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow glass etiquette to correctly set the glasses on your dining table.

If you are a guest or you are drinking socially, respect glass etiquette rules to properly use glasses.

glass etiquette rules: how to use glasses

Drinking glass etiquette rules

how to put water and wine glasses on the table

1) Set glasses according to table etiquette

Place drinking glasses on the top-right side of each setting, slightly above the position of the plate and the knives. The traditional glasses for a meal are tumblers for water and soft drinks, and wine glasses for wine. 

If you are the host, remember that glasses must be perfectly clean and that you need to provide a clean glass for each beverage you are serving.

2) Drink only one beverage with each glass

Use each glass for only one type of beverage.

The right glasses for water are large tumblers.

Use stemmed glasses for wine. Larger glasses with a wide belly for red wine. Smaller ones for white wine or rosé wine. Glasses for dessert wine or liquors are the smallest ones.

Use each glass only for one wine. If you change the wine, change the glass too. Do not use the same glass for more than one wine, even if the wine is of the same color or type.

Appropriate types of champagne glasses

3) Use the right glass for each beverage

Tumblers are the most appropriate glasses for water and soft drinks. The typical size is around 25 cl (8.5 oz).  

Wine etiquette requires wine glasses. Wine glasses are usually stemmed glasses or in the shape of a chalice. The typical size is between 25 and 35 cl (8.5 and 12 oz).

Place wine glasses on the right side of the water glasses. If both red and white wine is served, the larger glass is for red wine. While the smaller glass is for white wine. Treat rosé wine as white wine.

Drinks other than water and wine can be served in special glasses. In absence of special glasses, it is not bad etiquette to use other traditional glass types as an alternative. 

Champagne is usually served in champagne glasses. There are two types of Champagne glasses: flute and narrow coupe or saucer-shaped. It is best to use flutes, as they help Champagne to keep its bubbles.

The ideal glass for Prosecco or other sparkling wines is a white wine glass.

Brandys are usually served in balloon glasses. Whiskeys are usually served in tumbler glasses. 

Cocktail glasses vary based on the spirits used in the cocktail. Martinis are often served in triangular stemmed glasses, Bloody Marys in large tumblers.

How to hold a wine glass

4) Hold stemmed glasses from the stem

Hold flutes and wine glasses from the stem, to avoid warming the wine with your hand.

How much you should fill a water glass or a wine glass

5) Fill glasses with the right quantity

Do not overfill glasses. It is good etiquette to fill water and soft drinks glasses slightly over half glass.

Glass etiquette recommends filling wine glasses slightly over one-third.

Pay extra care with alcoholic drinks. If you overfill someone’s glass with alcohol, it may look like you are trying to get the person drunk.

When serving beverages to other guests, serve from the guest’s right side to avoid crossing the person. When pouring beverages, the bottle or container should not touch the glass.

6) Do not drink with food in your mouth

You should drink or eat. Avoid doing both at the same time.

Drink only when you have no food left in your mouth. Do not wash down food with a beverage. Doing otherwise is bad table manners.

Before drinking, ensure that your lips are not greasy or oily, to avoid leaving a mark on the glass. You can discreetly and lightly pat your lips with your napkin. If you are wearing lipstick or lip balm, try to limit the contact between your lips and the glass. Consider removing your lipstick before starting the meal. 

Do the same with your fingers. If you are touching food with your fingers, clean them before you touch your glass.

glasses etiquette mistakes

Drinking glass etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst glass etiquette mistakes. 

  • 8/10. Overfilling glasses.
  • 7/10. Drinking with food in your mouth.
  • 7/10. Using the same glass for more than one beverage.
  • 6/10. Soiling glasses with your lips.
  • 5/10. Not holding a wine glass by the stem.


  • Glass shape influences drinking behaviours: