Port Wine Glasses: What You Need to Know

best port wine glasses - port wine glasses infographic

Are you a Port wine enthusiast wondering which glassware will help you enjoy this hedonistic wine’s rich and sweet flavors to their fullest? Port wine glasses are an actual thing (and I have thoughts on them).

Traditional Port glasses are smaller than standard glasses. You pour less wine thanks to Port’s high alcohol content. Port glasses have tulip shaped bowls to concentrate aromas. You can also use white wine glasses so that you can swirl and tip the glass to see the wine’s color. 

Here’s what you need to know about Port wine glasses.

What Is Port Wine?

port wine glasses
Douro Valley, Portugal, home of Port wine Attribute:Laszlo Daroczy

Port wine, often just called “Port” is a fortified wine made in the Douro Valley of Portugal. 

Port wine is typically served as a dessert wine after dinner.

Port wines are always sweet, and typically red (rose and white Ports are a thing, but rare). Port’s fortified with distilled spirits which raise the alcohol level to 19%-22% alcohol by volume. Renowned the world over, Port has a reputation for being a powerhouse of a wine with rich layers of flavor, a full body, and lingering notes of candy and fruit. 

Helpful Tip: If you’re into the nerdy winemaking details, check out this post on how winemakers make Port.

What Is the Correct Size of Glass for Port?

When it comes to Port wine glasses, smaller has traditionally been better. Generally, Port glasses are smaller than regular wine glasses, and hold around 3.5-4.5 oz. or 100-130 ml. The smaller size serves to concentrate the aroma and flavors, allowing you to slip into the glass and savor the wine’s complexity.

Why Is Port Served in a Small Glass?

Port wine glasses are small for several reasons. First, Port’s a high alcohol fortified wine. You just can’t guzzle it down, so smaller glasses help moderate the amount you pour. Second, smaller glasses concentrate the aromas.

Finally, a small pour subconsciously encourages you to savor the wine more slowly.

When you see the small amount, you think:

“Ah! This must be special! There’s only a little bit here.”

What more encouragement do you need to enjoy a leisurely after-dinner tipple over conversation?

What Does a Port Wine Glass Do?

Traditional Port wine glasses are designed to enhance your Port drinking experience. They have a tulip shaped bowl and a narrow-rimmed mouth. The bowl gives the wine more surface area to allow the aroma molecules to evaporate. The narrow mouth concentrates those molecules up near your nose so that you can smell them better.

Port wine glasses always have a stem.

This prevents your hands from warming up the wine and changing its temperature. 

What Glasses are Best for Port Wine?

The best Port wine glasses have a tulip-shaped bowl with a narrow mouth, allowing you to concentrate the aroma while enjoying the flavors. Some of the most renowned Port wine glass brands include Riedel, Schott Zwiesel, and Spiegelau

If you really love your home bar, then investing in a high-quality Port wine glass set will certainly add a touch of sophistication to your tasting experience.  Check out this high-end Riedel crystal Port glass (as a temptingly sexy example):

port wine glass

Riedel Bar Vinum Crystal Port Wine Glass, Set of 4 Buy on Amazon

What is the Standard Port Glass Size?

While the standard Port glass size is around 3.5-4.5 oz. or 100-130 ml, there isn’t a strict rule when it comes to the size of Port glasses. The glass size can vary depending on personal preference, the type of Port being served, and the occasion.

Ultimately, the size of the glass should help you concentrate the aroma and flavor while allowing you to savor your wine at a leisurely pace.

Vintage Port Wine Glasses

Vintage Port is a special type of Port wine that requires aging and then decanting prior to enjoying. Vintage Ports are premium wines and can fetch top dollar thanks to their layered complexity and intense profiles.

As such, Vintage Port glasses are smaller than regular Port glasses, with a capacity of around 2-3 oz. or 60-90 ml. The smaller size helps to concentrate the aroma and flavor of the Vintage Port, allowing you to savor every sip.

Helpful Tip: Check out this post that covers everything you need to know about Vintage Port wines.

Do You Have to Drink Port from Special Glasses?

If you don’t have your own set of special Port glasses, fear not! Use a standard white wine glass, but keep your pours small. The white wine glass shape will act the same way as Port wine glasses, increasing surface area and concentrating aromas. 

You’ll also be able to swirl vigorously and tip the glass on its side to contemplate the grand philosophical thoughts that come with drinking Port wine.

How Much Do Port Wine Glasses Cost?

A standard set of 4 inexpensive everyday Port wine glasses should cost about $20-$30 USD. Mid-priced Port wine glasses will cost $45 – $54 USD for a set of 4 glasses. Expect to pay $120 USD for a set of 4 premium crystal Port glasses.

Inexpensive: $20
Mid-Priced: $45
Premium Crystal: $20

Where Can You Find Port Wine Glasses?

port wine glasses - thrift store
Look for Port wine glass sets at thrift stores.

Of course you can buy the finest Port wine glasses online, but just a personal anecdote: I come across Port wine glasses all of the time at thrift stores and vintage shops.

If you love thrifting or buying used and have even the littlest bit of patience, then keep an eye out for Port wine glasses when you go to shopping.

The downside is that it can be challenging to find a full 6-glass set, but they do exist!

Side Note: I think that the reason Port wine glass sets end up in thrift stores and antique shops so frequently is because Port’s just not as popular as it once was. The sets you see in thrift shops reflect the drinking preferences from the last generation. If this is route you take to acquiring your very own Port glasses, good for you! And now you have a Port story to share.

Final Thoughts – The Best Port Wine Glasses Elevate Everything!

Drinking Port from the correct glasses is crucial for your Port experience, but you’ve got options. Whether you want to buy a special set of Port glasses for your home or repurpose a white wine glass, you can’t go wrong.

Remember, the style and shape of the glass will influence how the wine is presented. Stick to tapered round bowls and stems.

Experiment Time!

A fun experiment is to do several small pours of Port in different shaped glasses. Go through and swirl and smell each one. Do you notice any differences? You should!

Thirsty for More?

Check out this post that covers Port Wine Basics – just the basics, just for you!

How Is Port Actually Made? It’s a little different than your typical red wine. Here’s the rundown.

One of the most common styles of Port wine is Ruby Port, so I put together this post on Ruby Port wine to get you started.

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