I don’t want to be “that person” who gets all judgey about how you hold your wine glass. If you want to palm that glass of Rosé like a basketball, well then you just go right ahead. It will get under my skin, but that’s not your problem.
You’re not to blame; there are plenty of people on television, and in the movies, who coddle their wine glass like it’s a hot cup of tea. Maybe the media is trying to reflect the real world and not trying to be “correct”, but they are still guilty of perpetuating the problem.
So, why is there a right and wrong way to hold a wine glass anyway? If there is a stem on the glass, it’s there for a reason. You hold the glass by the stem so that you don’t alter the temperature of the wine in the glass. Let’s assume for a moment that your glass of wine is the perfect temperature for drinking. That is, for red wines, around 65 degrees, and, for whites, around 52 degrees. By grasping the glass by the bowl, your body temperature will warm up the glass quickly and alter the taste of the wine, making it less enjoyable. It’s akin to drinking your piping hot cup of tea or coffee after it has cooled down too much. This leads to a less satisfying experience — for most.
Holding the glass by the stem also helps avoid greasy fingerprints and ugly smudges on your glass and makes it easier for you to swirl your wine around in the glass without making a mess. I’m sure you’ve been with a friend who clutches the glass by the bowl and tries to swirl the wine vigorously, only to splash you with a spindrift of Pinot Noir.
If you want to look like you know what you’re doing when someone takes a picture of you with a glass of wine, hold it by the stem. Behind closed doors, do what’s comfortable for you. Now at least you know why there is a proper way to hold the glass, and it’s not all about snobbery. I’m sure you already know that you shouldn’t parrot the people you see on television, or in the movies. You know things are upside down when Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn are doing it wrong, and Will Ferrell and some chick from The Bachelor are doing it right.