Best Wine Glasses 2008

Best Wine Glasses 2008

Maxwell Ryan
Nov 19, 2008

I have, over time, become a bit of a wine glass snob. I can't drink wine out of a jelly jar anymore and enjoy it (unless I'm at a picnic or camping!). I've come to prefer the thin glass lip of real wine glass, along with the rounded bowl that allows you to smell the wine before you drink it (which is 1/2 the experience, I've also learned. Did you know that if you pinch your nose while drinking wine, you can't tell the difference between white and red?)...

I am not (yet) the type of snob that requires a certain type of wine glass with my Pinot Noir and another glass for my Cabernet. I have only two kinds of glasses in our our house: one for white and one for reds, and when space doesn't allow for this, I recommend a well shaped white wine glass for everything.

Rule #1:
• Buy crystal glasses. Don't mess with pure glass.
Rule #2:
• Ikea glasses are lovely and cheap but they always break.
Rule #3:
• Don't buy decorative glasses or crazy shapes. It's not about the glass; it's about the wine.

Following is my short list of great, recommended glasses and makers. What I've found is pretty simple and hasn't changed too much over the years, and if you're stocking your kitchen for the holidays, these recommendations can really help you out. Got your own? Email me at maxwell @ and put WINE in the subject header. I'll check your recommendation out and add it to this post when it goes live later this week.

Top Picks:

>> Spiegelau Authentis Wine Glasses - These guys are just as good as the market leader - Riedel - but they are cheaper.

>> Reidel Vinum Wine Glasses - These are great, but get pricey.

>> Riedel "O" Series Wine Glasses - I love these and now use them at home for everything. Small, because they have no stem, and lovely to drink out of, if you only have room for one wine glass, just get a white wine version of these. They're cheaper too.

Top Picks from Readers:

Kim Grant from Salt Lake City: Schott Zwiesel at Pottery Barn

"Hi Maxwell,

You didn't include the reason why a thin lipped glass is preferable for wine (or any beverage for that matter). Thick rims encourage one to suck the beverage into the mouth instead of pouring. Try it out and you'll see that this affects the way the flavor hits your palette.

I also think it's worth including the pros and cons for stems/stemless. I dislike stemless glasses for a couple of reasons (though I agree they are chic and easy for casual sipping). Part of the experience of wine is it's color. It's easier to really see the color in a glass that you can hold up the light. The other part of the experience is swirling for aeration. Young reds especially benefit from repeated swirling. And it's easier to do so with a stem. Further, most wine makers will agree: whatever you use for reds, do use stemmed glasses for whites. Handling the bowl heats up the wine and change the flavor, and while room temperature whites are amazing (the bouquet will be more pronounced when the wine is not cold), you'll find that experiencing the flavor shifts as cool (not cold) wine warms slowly is better than the faster heating from being held by your hands.

Last but not least: fingerprints. I hate them on my glass table, and like them even less on my wineglass. That's a bit OCD, as they say. But some of us are just like that. :-)

Oh, I almost forgot my favorite glass of late. Schott Zwiesel at Pottery Barn.

And the stems aren't so long that they make the top rack of the dishwasher hard to close.

thanks, Kim Grant
Salt Lake City (yes, there are millions of wine drinkers in SLC!)"

From Nicole: Riedel for Target Red Wine Glasses

"Hi Maxwell,

I recently bought the Riedel for Target Red Wine Glasses and I have found them beautiful, sturdy, and delightfully thin-lipped. Plus they're made of crystal! I'll never drink wine from a tumbler again.


From Heather: Villeroy & Boch's 'Torino' crystal wine glasses

"We use Villeroy & Boch's 'Torino' crystal wine glasses. They're super basic, yet elegant. And strong. Looks like the Macy's users agree!


From Jason: Schott Zwiesel

Maxwell, You should consider adding Schott Zwiesel stemware to your short list. Here's a link to their website. I've used glasses from the Pure, Fortissimo, and Diva lines, and have never been disappointed. I first encountered Schott stemware at Slanted Door a few years ago. The company uses titanium and zirconium in the glass-making process to produce stronger, more break-resistance glassware. And I believe their glasses are lead-free, but I'm not sure if that's correct, and what that might mean in terms of consumer- and factory worker-health concerns. Anyway, I hope you find this information helpful. Cheers, Jason

From Ivan: Bed Bath and Beyond wine glasses

Hi Maxwell,

I like the design of the "O" glasses but doesn't the lack of stem defeat the purpose of the wine glass? The stem acts as a handle so our hands don't affect the temperature of the wine inside the glass. It's one design aspect of the wine glass that I would not alter too much let alone "86". Bed Bath and Beyond has a cheap set of four well-shaped wine glasses that work decently for both reds and whites.

I've had them for almost 8 years and they've not broken (they also survived two moves). I only wish my more expensive and larger red wine glasses fared as well...



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