An unbranded, unblemished wine glass is elegant. One emblazoned with a venue’s name is straight to the point – and a good marketing tactic.

But recently, Melbourne bars and restaurants have levelled up their wine-glass art to the point we felt compelled to compile a gallery of our favourite designs (and some fun facts about them).

Umberto Espresso Bar’s good-luck charm

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What’s on your wine glasses? The Italian hand gesture “corna”.
What does it mean? Traditionally, it’s used to ward away evil spirits and bring good luck, so it’s basically the Italian horseshoe.
What’s the most interesting comment you’ve got about it? Too rude to publish.
Any other fun facts? As a little boy, I remember seeing my aunties use their hands this way. Initially I thought it was a rude gesture but then I thought, it couldn’t be – they go to church all the time!
– Marco Finanzio, owner

Bud of Love’s real eye-catcher

What’s on your glasses? Eyes. Wine eyes, to be exact.
What’s the story behind them? My friends call me “wine eyes” by the look of my eyes after one too many wines.
Who designed it? Lize Designs, an amazing branding girly. And they were printed by local small business Glasdec.
How many did you buy? Forty-eight. Because let’s face it, pretty wine glasses with printing are exxy.
– Farah Sabet, owner

Don’s’s Prahran Market haul

What graces your glasses? A market bag with all the necessities – our brandmark.
How did it come about? It represents who we are: fresh produce, flowers and wine, as well as being a nod to our location (across from Prahran Market).
Who’s the designer? Our friends at Studio of Design and Art.
How many have you gone through? We have had to reorder a few times, as we do love a cheeky party!
– Alex Gavioli, owner

Fin Wines’ itsy-bitsy insect

What’s your wine-glass art? An ant.
What’s the story behind it? When we moved from Jamsheed winery to our home in the Yarra Valley, we kept calling it the Year of the Ant, due to countless trips back and forth. Cars and utes always full. No one was allowed to go anywhere without any cargo.
Who designed it? Simon Bethell aka Lice for Life, a UK-born, Melbourne-based printmaker and jeweller.
Any memorable comments? An annoying one: “There’s an ant in my glass.”
– Angus Hean, co-owner

Lilac Wine’s mini (misunderstood) mollusc

What’s on your glasses? An oyster.
Who’s the designer? Kristian Leombruni, a wicked lino-print designer who did all the artwork for Lilac Wine.
What’s the most common observation from diners? People often have a giggle as the oyster has a slight yonic feel to it.
– Charlotte Martin, venue manager

Park Pantry’s diminutive doggo

What do your glasses have on them? A tongue-in-cheek reference to south-side dog owners: is the owner sharing the coffee with her dog?
What was the inspo? In the south, the smaller the doggo, the better. So it’s a play on that.
Who designed it? Jeffrey Phillips aka Jeff the Peff.
How many did you buy? Twelve dozen.
Can you recall any memorable comments? We had five other illustrations done by Jeff [for around the venue] and the most comments we’ve received are about one we call “Two Karens Talking”.
– Jeremy Vogrin, owner

Va Penne’s ode to impassioned Italians

What’s on your glasses? Our logo, the Italian “pinched fingers” or “finger purse” hand gesture, [which translates to something like, “Whaddaya want?”].
What inspired it? It complements our silly name, Va Penne, which is a dumb play on words from “va bene” (“alright” in Italian), and a reply I’ve used on occasion when in Italy and I’m asked how I am.
Anything else to note?After a few glasses of wine in these vessels, you’ll be speaking fluent Italian with your hands and nailing the gesture.
– Szebastiaan Butler, co-owner

Sleepys’s true-to-its-name nap-time tableaux

What’s on your glasses? A line drawing of a person sleeping on a table.
Who designed it? I did! Crazy, hey? You don’t want to see my initial stick-figure mock-up.
Got a fun fact? The pour line is right below the head, so with every full glass it looks like the person’s actually sleeping on a surface.
– Steven Chan, owner

Jeow’s saucy situation

What’s on your glasses? The phrase “fish sauce”.
How did it end up there? It’s an obscure reference back to Jeow’s Vietnamese-inspired predecessor Anchovy. Anchovy is the main ingredient in fish sauce and fish sauce is used so dominantly in Vietnamese cooking.
Have you got any notable comments about it? “Is that actually fish sauce in there? Ha ha ha.”
Any extra fun facts? It was very on-brand when [chef and co-owner] Thi [Le] decanted some of the fish sauce she made into a fish-sauce-branded wine glass.
– Jia-Yen Lee, co-owner

These responses were edited for length and clarity.