Wine Etiquette

Today I’d love to share 8 fun tips for drinking wine! It’s nerdy, but I like learning etiquette tips (do you?) and thought you might like to hear these fascinating wine dos and don’ts before heading out to holiday parties and romantic dinners. Below, I wrote out the tips, and the genius Gemma Correll illustrated them. Here goes…

1. Fill red wine glasses 1/3 full, white wine glasses 1/2 full, and sparkling wine 3/4 full.

2. Twist the bottle at the end of pouring a glass of wine, to prevent drips (and to give it a flourish!).

3. Cheers! When clinking glasses, make eye contact with the other person. Otherwise, according to French superstition, you’ll risk seven years of bad luck (read: bad sex). You also should clink glasses individually with each person at the table without crossing anyone’s arms.

4. If someone is toasting you (your wedding, your birthday, your general awesomeness), don’t take a sip. Just smile and look humble.

5. Always hold your wine glass by the stem. Many people mistakenly think you only need to hold white wine by the stem (so you don’t warm up the wine), but experts say you should hold red wine by the stem, too, so you can see its color and clarity, as well as to avoid smudging the glass with your fingerprints. Otherwise, wine snobs might call you a “bowl grabber”! :)

6. On the table, your wine glass goes to the right of your water glass.

7. While taking a sip, you should politely look into your glass. (And not at another person, if you’re in the middle of a conversation.)

8. The host’s duty is to make sure glasses stay filled. “My eyes go to empty glasses immediately,” wine expert John Thoreen says. “It’s a real radar thing for me.”

9. Or happily forget all the tips above, and just eat, drink and be merry!

Hope you enjoyed these! Thanks again to Gemma for the awesome illustrations. xoxo

P.S. A lipstick trick with wine, and the #1 etiquette tip to remember for the holidays.

(Illustrations by Gemma Correll for A Cup of Jo. Thanks to Shoko for research help. Tips via Primer, SFGate and years of drinking experience:)

  1. Well your site is very informative and it will be equally worthwhile.Well thanks for this information it will really gonna help a lot of people.
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  2. People never care for the right wine etiquettes,but these are very important and have an impact on our impression. Thanks Joanna for sharing with us the right conduct of filling red wine glasses,white and sparkle wine glasses and the manner to drink wine in a group.

  3. Good information about drink wine.I am regular drinker.I have drink many wine.

  4. Some will drink two to three glasses, some will drink none or one. If you have a crowd that enjoys wine.
    wine packaging

  5. This is such a fun site. You add a refreshing touch to wine appreciation. For those of us who can appreciate fun AND elegance, engraved white wine glasses make a great match.

  6. Choose wider, bowl-shaped glasses for red wines. With the bolder bouquets of red wines, you will want a wider mouth in your wine glass to enable you to capture all the aromas the red wine has to offer.

  7. Awesome illustration I never had idea about it although I have a membership of Celebration Wine Club . Really good & thanks for sharing.

  8. I discovered your web site via Google while looking for a related subject, lucky for me your web site came up, its a great website. I have bookmarked it in my Google bookmarks. You really are a phenomenal person with a brilliant mind!


  10. Joanna,

    I love your blog! May I translate this content for mine? (with credits, of course!)



  11. Great post and love the illustrations

  12. What an awesome post. Love the tips!

  13. love the post! never knew about not crossing arms – thx for the tips!!

  14. Anonymous says...
  15. LOVE this! :) Thanks for sharing – bc I didn’t have *clue*.
    And yes, wonderful, wonderful illustrations! Bravo!!

  16. Love this! lol, cute and informative.

  17. Gemma is a super special illustrator and so very lovely – so thrilled to see her work on here! :)

  18. Awesome!! Love #s 3 and 7!!

  19. so i am actually right by holding the stem! haha

  20. Amazing post!

    Cheers to you and Gemma :)

    Merry Christmas x

  21. Haha I should work on my wine etiquette really, but I love the empty glass tingles! Another note would be – don’t make wine glass music as apparently some people that very annoying! But personally I like it…I should stop though. It’s quite addictive once you start! You’ll see…

    Dinx @ Lovely in Random xoxo

  22. Such a cute post! I love the illustrations. Definitely some great pointers here!

  23. These illustrations are great! I never knew the “etiquette” about where to fill the glass to…I just always fill a generous glass :)

    How do you feel about matching wine with food? Was just discussing this with friends – I generally disregard the rules but perhaps I’m not enough of a wine snob!

    Thanks for the wonderful post, linked it at!

    Happy Holidays

  24. Number 8 always annoys me when I’m out with my dad – he eats/drinks/does everything FAST. And the waiters in the restaurants keep topping his glass up so I end up only managing to get the first half a glass they pour me and dad ends up finishing the rest of the bottle (doesn’t help that he’s completely oblivious to this…).

    Is it an offence to just enjoy your wine slowly? Le sigh …..

    Ther should be some etiquette that says ‘don’t let glasses run dry – but watch that its not all being drunk by just one person …’.

  25. AJ says...

    lovely! i am also an etiquette nerd. :) my grandmother once told me that good manners are grounded in thinking of others before you.

    if you already haven’t, you should check out one of my favorite books : “A Guide to Elegance” by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux. it is a small style guide, but also about fashion etiquette!

  26. So I was totally nerdy tonight an quoted this at dinner! Our waitress poured the glass 1/3 full of merlot and I grabbed the stem like I was taught! My friends looked at me funny when I said I had just seen a wine etiquette post today…especially when I said we need to look each other in the eyes while toasting. Someone will share my nerdiness one day!

  27. What an adorable post! I did not know half of these things. The illustrations are so cute. Fantastic job on your and Gemma’s part! Merry Christmas!

  28. this is so useful! although I probably break a lot of these rules most of the time. oops!

  29. i like that last tip a lot. at the end of the day… who cares?! :D

    merry christmas!

  30. amazing tips! :) & illustrations by Gemma!

  31. thanks for all these awesome comments!!! i love the extra tips — and that vaseline/lipstick tip is awesome, mariel! you guys are the best!

  32. so cool tips with funny pics;) a big Cupcake thanks for sharing.

  33. Too cute! So is it okay to hand out whole bottles with fancy straws? : )

  34. I needed this cute and funny lesson. I’m the girl who drinks wine because it taste good. I have no idea what goes in what or where or with what!

  35. When you know you’ll be sipping red, you can prevent lipstick stains on teeth by coating gnashers with a very thin layer of vaseline before heading out. It’s a tried & true pageant trick and really works. Such a cute post!

  36. Great post! I love etiquette, but also think people take themselves way too seriously. I say if your drinking…just have fun!
    Wine snobs would like care for my stemless wine glasses or that I over-chill my white wine.
    Love, love, love your blog!

  37. what happens if you drink boxed wine like me- how do you politely pour your guests wine since you can’t twirl the bottle?? ha!! and i always pour my glasses 3/4 of the way full- keeps me from having to refill!! this is cute though, illustrations are hilarious.

  38. Whoops, that should have been 10)!

  39. Loved these .. thank you! I only wish you had a Twitter share button. May I make a suggestion for 9) Never ask a guest if they would like MORE wine – even if it’s their fifth glass it is better to say “Would you like SOME wine” as if you were re-filling for the first time.

  40. Madame Vaz says...

    I might just add an important French supersition, when you drink wine you look at the person you are toasting with and you toast strongly (glasses were made of kind of silver before) because it avoids to be poisoned. In fact you are supposed to toast hard so both wine are melting so you are sure the other person didn’t put some poison in your own glass!!

  41. I really love your blog, your posts and your draws!!!!

  42. I absolute love sipping a glas of wine now and then! you totally explained the do’s and dont’s! The eye contact thing is realy important. Also in Italy is believed if you don’t make eye contact you will have bad luck (sex) for years (not sure if it was 7)! Anyway, great post!

  43. Anonymous says...

    This is a super fun post. I love the illustrations – and, yes, before reading I did think I knew how to drink wine! I Love you blog. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year!

  44. Love this post and the illustrations are fab and funny.
    I was in New York recently on holiday and went to a couple of eateries you had recommended – Hudson Clearwater and Cafe Cluny . We were in Hudson Clearwater two minutes when actor Jesse Eisenberg from the movie Social Network walked in ! Had a great night there so thanks for the tips Jo. Hope you can pay my London blog a visit and perhaps I can return the favour.

  45. Correction Ref #5:
    In France glasses of wine are held by the glass ( not stem, it is considered disrespectful to the wine/life), Champagne flutes, however, are held by the stem.

  46. I like them too, just for fun. I love the introduction one and after you wrote it before I introduced Sarah, my sister (see what I did there? that way and it felt lovely. xxx

  47. i love learning etiquette tips! i loved the one about introducing the person by their name first and then their relationship to you second. i will never forget that! these wine tips are pretty cute too, you can never know too much about etiquette. thanks for sharing & the illustrations are darling!


  48. Anonymous says...

    My new year’s resolution is to stop bowl grabbing!

  49. Such a cute post! I love the illustrations. Definitely some great pointers here!
    Oh – Fancy That.

  50. What interesting rules, I had no idea! I simply love Gemma’s illustrations, they are the sweetest!

  51. super adorable and apt! Thanks for the tips:) Love the concept of pairing up with an illustrator for this. merry X’mas in advance from Singapore.

  52. Wow. I had no idea there were so many rules involved with wine drinking! The only one I’ve mastered is Rule #9 :)

  53. absolutely loved this~thanks!!

  54. Anonymous says...

    Cute : ) And please, to those of you pouring… never, ever, ever touch the bottle to the glass… gross!

  55. Anonymous says...

    I actually got called out the other day for not looking the person in the eye when I would cheers them. It made sense and it was proper etiquette. I won’t make that mistake again. I’m also one to keep my guests’ wine glasses full but I did hear, during one toast a long time ago, that it’s only the American culture that actually touches glasses when they cheers. None the less, this is an adorable post and I’ve shared it on my fb for all to see. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

  56. Anonymous says...

    your blog is the first thing i read when i come to the office in the morning – been curious about wine etiquette for a while – thank you for the helpful info!:)

  57. amazing!
    i’m soo printing it for my bf!

    thanx ;D

  58. This is great! I didn’t know about eye contact and bad luck thing! Good to know…Thanks! Jenniferxx

  59. I’m a waitress, and found these tips to be especially helpful! Thanks!

  60. YAY! Now I will never look like an idiot while out with friends! I love the illustrations by the way.

  61. As a very occasional wine drinker, this was fun for me to learn! I’m actually going to a company party tonight at a fancy restaurant, so this was much appreciated :)


  62. This is a cute list, who knew you could drink wine wrong? xx

  63. Hi from Madrid :-D In Spain we do drink a lot of wine (it is cheaper than in other cities of Europe and America, as it is widely produced here) so I can ensure that all the tips are 100% right and followed by people here :-D

    I loooved the comic, though!

  64. such great tips! Thanks!

  65. coming from a wine area I agree with all of these :) here’s to a happy holiday season and many glasses of wine x

  66. What a great post! Will try and remember these points, (but after a few glasses of red, I can’t guarantee anything!)

  67. Elodie says...

    Another tip from a French girl: when you have two glasses in front of you, the biggest one should always contain the water, the smaller the wine (not like the illustration of your 6th tip could let people think ;)

  68. Great tips!! But I think I will stick with the last tip :)

    Love Gemma’s illustrations… she is too funny!

  69. I knew I was doing it wrong last night when I couldn’t fine a bottle opener and ended up pushing the cork in the bottle. I will study hard so that next time, I may be classy. Ha-ha. Love your blog, Jo!

  70. Love these tips! I’m huge on etiquette and never even considered proper wine drinking and serving before… I have been missing out!! :)

  71. Ah, the very best way of shaming people into doing things right an proper–cute illustrations! I love it. Though, like anonymous’ friend up there, we are jelly jar drinkers ’round these parts…of Brooklyn. Number nine really speaks to me :)

  72. this is wonderful and much appreciated. like someone said above, this kind of post really distinguishes your blogs from all of the others. i truly look forward to reading your blog each day.

  73. Oh my gosh! Thank you soo much for posting this! So helpful.. some of these I knew but I definitely learned some new tips.. oh and the illustrations are utterly adorable! :)

  74. great tips! people not making eye contact when toasting is one of my pet peeves

  75. This looks AMAZING! Love the illustrations!

  76. I will no longer be a bowl grabber! Thanks, Joanna!

  77. great list jo! as a bartender over filled wine glasses and bowl grabbers and make me crazy! another little point you might be interested in, although it would require a change in the illustrations, is to never cover the label with your hand and always have it facing the guest as you pour so they can clearly see what they are about to enjoy.

  78. Holy cow! If I licked my wine glass here in France before drinking, they would haul me off to the Funny Farm so I will have to figure out how to do that discreetly as it is an awesome tip, as are all of these! And the drawings are what will make them stick in my shaky brain.

    I almost crossed arms the other evening while toasting and everyone around me went “oooh”. Oops.

  79. This is amazing! I love (and desperately need) this!!

  80. Great tips and definitely just in time for the holidays!

    ps. A Cup of Jo + Gemma Correll, my two favorite things together?! It’s like a big Chanukah present to me!

  81. hahaha love this :)

  82. Super cute. Illustrations are amazing. I prefer martinis usually. :)

  83. Interesting, thanks for the tips.

  84. I absolutely adore Gemma Correll’s illustrations. Her website is gorgeous, too!

  85. After working at a winery for almost two years, I ZERO in on empty glasses like there’s no tomorrow.

    This was great Joanna, thanks for the post!

  86. I was told to make eye-contact and not look down at your drink when cheering because you’re toasting each other, not the drink. My mother also taught me to hold all glasses by the stem when chinking glasses because it makes a much more lovely sound than when the bowl is cupped!

  87. I always love Gemma’s drawings and they work beautifully here (especially the peeking cat)! These are great tips.
    We actually use the “Cheers” one with everything, including beer and scotch. The guys make it such an obvious thing it’s hilarious. They NEVER forget to make eye contact! Haha!

  88. I love this – so funa nd helpful!
    Much love,

  89. So cute. And OH! How I miss drinking wine. Just 12 more weeks…..

  90. Ah! I love Gemma Correll! How wonderful!

  91. Anonymous says...

    Also, appreciated the introduction tip!

  92. Anonymous says...

    i loved this!!!!! The tips are cool and the illustrations are perfect.

  93. Thank you for the tips and the cutest illustrations ever! It has prompted me to post a blog about what’s in my wine cooler. I will be linking up to this post. Thanks again!

  94. Anonymous says...

    haha, i like rule #9 the best! my cousin always pours wine in jelly jars (which is charming or slightly redneck depending on company + which part of the country you’re in).

    sweet cartoon drawings!

  95. Ali says...

    And #10: If there is some wine left in a glass, never refill it with wine from a new bottle until it’s really empty ;-)

    Hope you are having a great time in California! Merry Xmas!!

  96. i am always fascinated by these etiquette posts and learn so much. which leads me to believe i was not a very proper person before ‘a cup of jo’ came into my life.

  97. …and then there’s white before red, light before heavy and young before old…and which way to pass the port…and a few other rules we looked at here

  98. I love this post! The illustrations are so fun and what great tips!

  99. So cute! One thing, though, that I learned from my super socialite aunt + wine column writing buddies (formerly of the WSJ oohh): you ONLY hold the stem for red wine. Most people over-chill their whites & don’t chill their reds. They’re actually supposed to be about the same temperature! Since most people don’t do this, you don’t wan to warm your red anymore and it’s okay to let your white get a little warmer.

    :) happy drinking. Also LOVED your feature in r29 yesterday.

  100. You see, Joanna, this is why your blog is so much more amazing than anything out there!

  101. My favorite way to drink wine is on a picnic and straight out of the bottle :) How déclassé, I know.

  102. that’s cool and helpful too.
    thanks so much.

  103. This is sweet. I’d add something that is related. And I keep hearing people complain about this so…

    People: if you take wine to someone’s gathering, do not pout if they don’t serve it then. They’ve already planned their party & will enjoy it later.

    OK, I feel relieved now:)

  104. Ly says...

    I love this post so much. I’ve always wanted to know what wine etiquettes there are. This was a super fun way to know :) Thanks.

  105. these are such great tips! I had no idea you should hold all wine by the stem. Is it silly to say I just feel sort of pretentious when I hold wine by the stem? I feel like I look “cooler” (read: more casual, nonchalant, effortless) if I’m holding the entire glass.. haha!

  106. Hello! My first visit, will visit you again. Seriously, I thoroughly enjoyed your posts (great ilustrations!). Congrats for your work. If you wish to follow back that would be great I’m at
    Thanks for sharing!

  107. Ha! Love that “blah blah blah” pic

  108. i ♥ gemma correll! more!

  109. Love this! The illustrations are so cute too!

  110. Etiquette tips? I love etiquette *books*! Ha! Thank you, from one self-proclaimed nerd to another.

  111. this so cute! thanks for the tips!

  112. Ooh, I knew most of these!! Except for the clinking glasses individually thing. But I definitely drank red wine from a 3/4-filled white wine glass while reading a book in my den last night. Because I’m a rebel. ;-)

  113. Great tips! It does irk me when people hold their wine glass anywhere but the stem– I guess I am a bit of a snob :)

  114. Wonderful illustrations! I knew most of them :)

  115. How delightful! It’s also seven years of bad sex in Germany. Maybe all over Europe? My European friends seem highly aware of the dangers…Americans, not so much!

  116. Wow, some of these I had no idea about (like the term “bowl grabber,” I have to find a way to work that into a conversation one day…), so thanks! The tips about how full to fill the glasses will certainly come in the most handy!

  117. this is the cutest ever joanna! the illustrations are adorable! (i love the cat peeking, haha!) here in italy if you’re cheersing with plastic cups they don’t touch the cups together, but rather hand to hand. i couldn’t tell you why though!
    xo, marissa