This type of stemware is wide at the bottom with a narrower top. The shape allows you to swirl the spirit to coat the glass and directs the spirit’s aroma to your nose, heightening the aromatic experience of sipping cognac, scotch, bourbon or another aged, brown liquor you like.
Though they hold about six ounces, it’s best not to fill them all the way so you can leave room for swirling and allow the liquor to breathe.
At whiskey tastings, the snifters often have a more dramatic tulip shape that is even narrower at the top than the snifter pictured here. This allows tasters to experience the nose of the spirit more dramatically and encourages slower sipping. Some people call them “nosing” snifters.
Many beer enthusiasts like to use snifters for certain beers like double IPA, imperial stout or barley wine.
Image courtesy of TheCulinaryGeek.