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Wine

What is the right way to hold a wine glass?

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Holding a glass the right way prevents your body heat from warming the wine. (iStock)

You’re enjoying a delicious glass of pinot noir and suddenly notice your wine seems warm and the glass is hazy and smudged. How on earth did that happen?

Whether you’re sipping from fine crystal at your favorite restaurant or more casual stemware at home, here are a few essential tips for handling your wine glass that will have you sipping like a pro in no time:

Gripping your glass

Is the socialite palming her glass of chardonnay doing it right or is the correct way like the bespectacled wine snob pinching the stem with pinky out? The general rule is: keep your hands off the glass. In order to avoid a dirty, smudged glass and preserve the appropriate temperature of the wine, always grip the glass by its stem. Holding the glass this way prevents your body heat from warming up the wine and keeps the natural oils or any product on your hands from making a mess of the glass. This applies to red, white and sparkling wines, which all have different optimal serving temperatures.

Exception to the rule

The only time when you may want to grasp your wine glass by the “bowl” --or body of the glass-- is when a wine is served too cold. If you’re enjoying a glass of chardonnay or other full-bodied wine (white or red), serving it at a warmer temperature (55-65 degrees) helps the wine “open up” so you can better appreciate its complex aromas and flavors. The heat from your hands is the quickest and most effective way to attain the appropriate temperature if a wine arrives a little too chilly.

How about stemless glasses?

Stemless glasses are fine but be aware the longer you handle the glass, the warmer your wine will become and the hazier the glass can get. Setting your glass down in between sips will delay these effects and help you get the most enjoyment out your wine.

Stephanie Miskew is a certified sommelier, wine educator and proprietor of The Wine Atelier, an online wine boutique.  She also runs the The Glamorous Gourmet, a website dedicated to wine and entertaining.