Does the stem of a wine glass have a purpose or is it just for looks?
It has a purpose. Most/all white wines are not meant to be warm, therefore the stem prevents your hands from warming a glass of white wine. Red wine glasses generally do not have a stem or have a very short stem so that you can hold the round part of the glass in your hand which gently warms up the wine -- red wine is better slightly warmed by heat of the palm of your hand. Hope that was helpful!
Melbel is correct in the purpose of the stem. However, red wine glasses also have a stem, in fact almost all wine glasses have stems. While red wine is not meant to be enjoyed cold, it should not be warmed above room temp. That being said, it is really up the individual on what you prefer as far as temperature goes.
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