12 Tips For Glass Placement in Table Setting

Glass Placement
Understand glassware types, placement and etiquette for a polished dining experience. Use one glass per beverage and place glasses in order of use. Clean glasses properly and avoid touching the glass bowl. Consider unique glasses to add personality to the table setting.

1. Glassware Know-How

Knowing the different types of glasses and their uses ensures guests have a comfortable and enjoyable dining experience. Wine glasses are the most common, and several sub-types are within this category.

Red wine glasses have a larger bowl to allow the wine to breathe and release its aromas, while white wine glasses have a smaller bowl to keep the wine chilled. 

Water glasses are simple, with a straight-sided shape and no stem. Champagne flutes are tall and narrow, preserving carbonation and showcasing rising bubbles. There are many cocktail glasses, including martini, highball, and rocks glasses. 

Stemware, as the name suggests, has a stem that connects the glass bowl to the base. Stemless glasses have no stem and have a flat base for support. Stemware is ideal for wine and other beverages where drinkware should be held by the stem.

2. Precision Is Key

Proper glasses placement contributes to the table’s overall aesthetic and serves a practical purpose. Guests should easily reach their glasses without stretching across the dinner table or bumping elbows with neighbors

Arrange glasses in the order they will be used, from right to left. Place the water glass on the right-hand side of the plate above the dinner knife. The wine glass to the right of the water glass and any other glasses should be arranged in order of use. 

Align the glasses at an equal distance away from each other. This creates a symmetrical, polished look and avoids spills or accidents.

3. One Glass Rule

It may be tempting to use the same glass for water, wine, and soda, but this can lead to mixing flavors and ruining the taste of each beverage. That’s why it’s essential to use one glass per beverage to prevent flavor mixing.

Multiple glasses add an elegant touch and create a formal atmosphere. Arrange the glasses in order of use, so guests will know which glass to use for each course. 

When a guest finishes their drink, remove the empty glass and replace it with a clean one. Do so without interrupting the conversation or drawing attention to the exchange. 

4. Right Glass For Each Beverage

With so many types of glasses available, knowing which one to use for each beverage can be overwhelming. Let’s start with wine. Red ones are larger and have a wider bowl. This allows more air to come into contact with the wine, which helps release its aroma and enhance its flavor. 

White ones have a narrower bowl and a smaller opening. This helps to keep the wine cooler and preserve its delicate aromas. Sparkling wine glasses are tall and slim with a small opening. This helps to preserve the carbonation and showcase the wine fizz. 

Two main types of glasses for cocktails and spirits are highball and lowball. Highball glasses are tall and narrow, perfect for drinks like gin and tonic, mojitos, and Bloody Marys. 

Lowball glasses or rocks glasses, are short and stout and are used for drinks like whiskey, scotch, and brandy. These glasses can fit comfortably in your hand, allowing you to swirl the drink around to release its aroma.

5. Setting Multiple Glasses

multiple glass setup on table
Multiple glass setup on the table

The water goblet is the most important on the table, as it is the one your guests will use most throughout the meal. To ensure your guests can easily access their water, always place it on the right-hand side of the place setting. 

If you are serving multiple types of wine, have a separate glass for each variety. Begin with the red wine glass and place it to the right of the water goblet. Then, place the white wine glass to the right of the red wine glass and the champagne flute to the right of the white. 

6. Types Of Glass Arrangements

There are several types of glass arrangements that you can use, depending on the occasion and the number of glasses needed. Here are some of the most popular arrangements:

  • Single glass: It is the most basic arrangement, ideal when serving only water. Place the water goblet above the knife on the right side of the dinner plate
  • Double glass: The double glass arrangement is ideal for a 3-course meal. Place the wine glass to the right of the water glass. 
  • Triangular: The triangular glass arrangement is an excellent choice for a more formal occasion, such as a dinner party. This arrangement has variations, but the most common is with the white wine glass above the dinner knife. The water goblet goes to the lower right of the white and the red above the white to form a triangle.
  • Diamond: The diamond glass arrangement is perfect for serving sherry or another after-dinner drink. This is the triangular arrangement with the sherry glass instead of the white wine glass. The white moves to the right.

The glass arrangement may need to be adjusted based on the number of glasses required for the meal or occasion.

7. Order Of Glassware

The order of glasses on the table is not just about aesthetics – it also serves a functional purpose. When setting the table, place the glasses in the order they will be used. This means starting with the water glass, followed by wine glasses.

The order of glasses may change depending on the beverages being served with each course. Generally, start with the water glass, followed by any wine glasses needed for the first course. Once that course is finished, clear the glasses and move on to the next course. 

8. Formal Glass Placement

If you’re hosting a formal dinner party, every detail counts, including how you arrange your drinkware. Following a few basic guidelines is the key to proper glass placement in formal table settings. Place the glasses in the correct order from left to right. 

Place the glasses in the order of use, starting with the outermost glass and moving inward. For example, if you’re serving a red and white wine, you would place the red wine glass on the far right, followed by the white wine glass. 

You should only place glasses on the table that you plan on using. Leave about an inch of space between each glass to let guests pick up and put down their glasses comfortably.

9. Informal Glass Placement

For casual settings, you can place multiple glasses on the table, a glass for water, wine, and cocktail. Place the glasses in a diagonal line from the top right of the place setting. The water glass should be closest to the guest, followed by the wine glass and the cocktail glass. 

If you’re serving a multi-course meal, you should remove glasses that won’t be used in the later courses to make more room on the table. If you’re serving a meal requiring different glasses, you can create a separate table for the glasses.

10. Sparkling Clean Glasses

Nothing screams unprofessional like a glass with spots or fingerprints. Glasses with smudges or streaks affect the taste and create an unhygienic impression. 

The best way to hand-clean glasses is by using warm, soapy water. Use a soft cloth or sponge to clean the inside and outside of the glass gently. Rinse the glasses thoroughly with warm water and dry them with a lint-free cloth.

If the glasses have pesky spots and streaks after cleaning, you can use a soft microfiber cloth to clear them. You can also use white vinegar and water to remove stubborn spots.

11. Glass Etiquette

Proper glass etiquette starts with ensuring the glasses are clean and free from any streaks or spots. Place the clean glasses in the correct order.

When holding stemware glass, hold the stem and avoid touching the glass bowl. Gently tap your glass with someone else’s glass when toasting.

12. Unique Glassware Display

Using unusual or vintage glassware is a great way to add personality and flair to your tablescape. Incorporating unique drinkware into your table setting creates an uncommon look. 

For example, pair a tall, narrow champagne flute with a short, stout water glass. You could mix and match vintage glasses with modern ones to create a unique juxtaposition of old and new. Vintage glasses can add a touch of nostalgia and history to your table setting.

To incorporate vintage glasses into a modern table setting, pair them with modern elements such as clean lines and minimalist décor. For example, you could pair vintage champagne flutes with contemporary centerpieces.


Tabitha is a curious and enthusiastic writer who believes in the power of words and the importance of good manners. Etiquette is her passion, and she enjoys sharing her knowledge with others. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family.

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