Buying and Caring for Stemware - Wine Glasses

Buying Wine Glasses

Glasses designed for drinking wine have specific properties that have been designed to intensify the sensory experience. The cost and quality of a wine glass and how it affects the wine tasting experience has long been debated. Though wine glasses do not need to be expensive, the following criteria should be considered when choosing wine glasses that will be used for wine tasting:

  • Choose thin, clear, unadorned stemware. Decorative, cut glass or frosted stemware will obscure the color and clarity of the wine. Thin, lead crystal has the transparency and luster that displays wine at its best.
  • Choose a glass that has a tulip shaped bowl. Red wines benefit more when served in a "fatter" tulip shaped glass. Tulip bowls should taper slightly inward toward the rim, this will channel the wine into the nerve receptors in your nose when you sniff the wine.
  • Wine glasses that have a rolled rim can cause wine to dribble into your mouth. Choose a wine glass that has a thin rim so the wine glides smoothly into your mouth.
  • The glass should be on a tall, sturdy stem. The purpose of the stem is to prevent your hand from warming the bowl of the glass and, subsequently, the wine.
  • The foot (or base) of the glass should be broad enough to prevent the glass from tipping easily. The foot should be firmly attached to prevent it from snapping when swirled.
  • Choose a wine glass that is large enough to hold a full serving of wine without reaching halfway full. Be cautious, the glass should not be so large that it is awkward to hold. A good rule of thumb is to serve table wines in 8-20 oz. glasses, dessert wines in 6 oz. glasses, and sparkling wines in a slender glass (champagne flute) to prevent bubbles from dissipating.

When trying to achieve a professional feel of wine tasting, the glasses made specifically for tasting are known as INAO (Institut National des Appellations d'Origine) glasses.

If you are willing to spend more on a glass collection, there are glasses available that have been specifically designed to highlight the distinct features of different wine types.

Appropriate Stemware

WaterRed WineWhite WineSparkling Wine

Caring for Wine Glasses

The way in which you wash and care for wine glasses has a direct effect on the taste of wine.

  • Crystal glasses are more porous than normal glassware. The tastes and odors from storage boxes and soap are easily absorbed by crystal. Store glassware upright on a well ventilated shelf or hang them from a specialty glass rack.
  • If washing glasses by hand, use the hottest water possible and very little detergent. There are sponges available that are specifically designed for cleaning the inside of wine glasses.
  • If you use a dishwasher do not use detergent. Wash the glasses with hot water only. Depending on the type of glass, a dishwasher can easily break the stem during the wash cycle.
  • Dry wine glasses immediately with a lint free cloth to remove any water spots.

Prior to serving, rinse out the glasses with distilled water or with the wine you are about to serve.

Buying and Caring for Stemware - Wine Glasses Reviews

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