Wine - and Other - Glasses
on Your Table

Simple Glass Placement

Setting a proper table focuses primarily on the placement of flatware and dishes, but let's not forget the secondary focus: wine glasses, water glasses, and other drinking glasses.

In a simple place setting, a water glass or goblet is used, along with a wine glass for wine or another beverage.  A more formal setting for a multi-course meal may include a water glass, a sherry glass, a white wine glass, a red wine glass, and a champagne flute.

The placement of glasses is not complicated, but there is a system.

Beginning with Basics

Three-course Place SettingBMW - Bread, Meal, Water

The BMW method comes in handy for remembering proper place setting.  As the picture on the right illustrates, the order of placement from left to right is Bread, your Meal, and Water. 

You can also use your hands to help.  When your thumb and index finger touch to form a circle, and your other three fingers are vertical above this circle, your left hand forms a "b" and your right hand forms a "d", signifying that Bread is on the left and Drink is on the right.

These methods are great to know when you are at a restaurant or dining event where people are crowded in at tables.  Invariably, someone drinks out of her neighbor's glass or uses the wrong bread plate on these occasions where place settings are practically on top of one another.

Placing Wine Glasses


The water glass or goblet is placed first, above the knives.  The stemware is then placed corresponding to the order of use, from right to left.

Wine Glasses on the Table


In this setting, first the sherry is poured in the smaller glass nearest to the diner’s right hand at the same time the soup is served.  Next, a white wine (served with fish or chicken), then the red wine (served with meat).




If champagne is served, it will be for a special toast at the end of the meal.  The champagne glass is placed above and to the right of the water glass.

Generally, one beverage at a time is served and consumed.

At many gala meals, a red wine and white wine glass is set.  Servers will ask whether the diner prefers red or white wine.  If he prefers red, the white wine glass is removed, or vice versa.

Remember that each time you introduce a new/fresh bottle of Red or White, you should also replace the guest's old glass with a clean one. 

Holding Glassware to Drink

  • A drinking glass is held closer to the base of the glass.
  • A water goblet is held the same way a glass is.  It is not held by the stem.
  • Wine glasses are considered stemware and held by their stem to keep wine at its preferred cooler temperature.
  • A stemless wine glass is held as a regular glass — closer to the base of the glass.

More Etiquette Tips for Glasses

  • Properly use a napkin to blot your lips before taking a drink from any glass. 
  • Wipe your fingers before picking up a glass to avoid a slippery or messy glass.
  • Never gulp your beverage from any glass.


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