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Shopping for wine glasses is both an art and a science—whether you're just starting out or adding to an existing collection, you’ll want to find that sweet spot between aesthetics and utility. This isn’t always so easy, especially given the countless options available on the market, from varietal-specific glasses to all-purpose styles, not to mention specialty designs for sparkling wines and the like. The broad category of reds is no exception, so we asked sommeliers and wine experts to weigh in on their picks of the best red wine glasses.
“Wine glasses as we know it came into fashion during the medieval ages,” says Alex Augustine, a sommelier at Chicago's Aba. “The stem is thought to be an invention of the church to allow for easier viewing by the clergy during ceremonies, with most glasses predating that being small and stemless.”
Best Overall: Gabriel-Glas “One for All” StandArt Edition
Excellent all-in-one option
Made with lead-free crystal
Doesn’t break the bank
Rafa García Febles, beverage manager, and sommelier at Le Crocodile in New York has a tried-and-true mantra for beginners when glassware shopping. “Experiment, explore [and] have fun," he says. “If you're just starting out, you want to make sure you have a glass that lets you appreciate the nuances of a great pour, but don't break the bank on separate $60 crystal glasses for each style of wine." One way to go about this, according to Febles, is to opt for a durable, all-purpose glass that works with a wide variety of wines.
One industry favorite is the Gabriel-Glas “One for All” style. Available in two quality levels, the StandArt Edition and the Gold Edition, Febles recommends trying the former first: “[This glass] will show a lot of different styles near their best, allowing you to explore and develop your palate before committing to more specialized glassware." He explains, “Generally, you want a glass with a wide bowl, thin glass and a stem: the bowl allows aromas to emerge and gather, thin glass allows the wine to flow easily into your mouth, and a stem prevents your hand from unnecessarily warming the wine or contributing off-aromas from whatever you've been touching.”
Offering all of the above, this wine glass is also made from lead-free crystal and molded in a machine.
Best Stemless: Duralex Picardie Tumbler
Versatile for a variety of beverages
Not a traditional wine glass
Not ideal for higher-end wines
If you’re looking for a versatile workhorse, Victoria James, sommelier and beverage director at Cote in New York, recommends her go-to stemless glass, the Duralex Picardie Tumbler. According to her, these glasses are durable, reliable, and great for brasserie-style wines. Plus, they won’t break the bank.
“This is my vehicle for a tipple at the end of a long workday,” she says. The tempered, non-porous glass of these tumblers is impact- and chip-resistant, and it’s designed to withstand sudden temperature changes—meaning if you make an espresso and want it iced, you can stick it in the freezer while hot and the glass can easily handle it. These space-saving, stackable tumblers are also dishwasher- and microwave-safe.
Best Varietal-Specific: Riedel Veritas Old World Pinot Noir
Excellent for aromatic reds
Gorgeous to look at
Contrary to popular belief, varietal-specific wine glasses can sometimes work well for wines outside of their intended use. These glasses are designed to showcase fruit-forwardness, temper high acidity, and enhance aromatics—try them with a few different pinot noirs (such as red burgundy or a varietal from California) and a gamay to see how they influence the wine on the nose and palate. These glasses are made from crystal and are dishwasher safe.
“I'm a big fan of the Riedel Veritas Old World Pinot Noir glass that we use at Le Crocodile for burgundies and other aromatic reds. It's gorgeous to look at and beautifully balanced in your hand, and it highlights aromas while preserving the wine's structure.” — Rafa García Febles, beverage manager, and sommelier at Le Crocodile in New York
Best for Swirling: Schott Zwiesel Burgundy
Excellent for swirling
Not ideal for more delicate, aromatic wine
Sur Lucero, an award-winning master sommelier, advocates using varietal-specific stemware flexibly. “You don’t always have to play by the rules when it comes to your wine glass choices,” he says. “For example, I typically enjoy Châteauneuf-du-Pape from a burgundy glass because it is almost always grenache-based." Michelle Feldman, sommelier and co-founder of Good Clean Wine, adds that “[burgundy glasses] are shaped with larger rims and bowls specifically to enhance the full-bodied, powerful, expressive complexity of red and accentuate its minerality and smooth character.” Plus, these glasses are excellent for swirling.
For Lucero, a burgundy glass is a cabinet staple thanks to its versatility. This stemware set by Schott Zwiesel is made from a proprietary break- and chip-resistant crystal and is dishwasher safe. Even more, the glasses can accommodate a variety of wines in addition to burgundy (think sangiovese, chianti, lambrusco, beaujolais, brunello, chardonnay, viognier and more).
Best Value: Luigi Bormioli Crescendo Bordeaux
As a sommelier-in-training, one of my favorite brands for glassware is Luigi Bormioli. I use their water glasses, wine glasses, you name it—they are of excellent quality and feel much more expensive than what they actually cost. Take their Bordeaux glasses, for example, one of the wine glass styles Lucero recommends (along with burgundy). He says that a wide-bowled burgundy glass, when accompanied by a great Bordeaux glass (generally known for having highly sloped sides), should cover most of your red wine drinking needs.
Glasses within Luigi Bormioli’s SON.hyx collection are crystal clear, resistant to chipping and breaks, are dishwasher safe, and come with a 25-year manufacturer’s warranty. Best of all, they’re thin and lightweight, which is important for stemware in general. Use these glasses for any Bordeaux, young or old, as well as any and all of the varietals that go into it (cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, among others).
“Current day red wine glasses are usually found in either the burgundy (big fishbowls) or Bordeaux style (tall and large), but what matters most is having a large surface area for the wine to interact with oxygen. The larger surface area, the quicker that tight or bold wines will open up and become easier to drink.” — Alex Augustine, sommelier at Aba in Chicago
Best Set: Wine Enthusiast Fusion Air Complete Collection
An excellent starter kit
Large quantity of glasses
Wine Enthusiast’s collection of wine glasses is a perfect foundation for those starting from scratch. This particular set of 16 features four glasses each of the following styles: Fusion Air Cabernet, Pinot Noir and two universal styles.
According to Feldman, these lead-free, handmade glasses are lightweight, dishwasher safe and break-resistant. Best of all, Wine Enthusiast offers a 10-year warranty on the off chance that any of these glasses break.
Best Everyday: Riedel Vinum Glass
Ideal universal glass
Not ideal for Bordeaux
While tall-stemmed, paper-thin glasses are excellent for opening up aromas and allowing a wine to breathe, that’s likely not the glass you’re reaching for when cracking your weeknight bottle of wine. That’s where a universal glass steps in. These all-purpose glasses are designed to be perfectly serviceable for every and any wine you’re sipping. There’s still a stem and a bowl large enough for oxidizing a tight red, but this glass will also play home to everything from opulent chenin from the Loire to a juicy beaujolais nouveau to a silky trousseau.
“If you are buying a wine glass for the first time, my recommendation is to buy an all-purpose wine glass which is suitable for both casual and formal occasions. The glass can be used for both red & white wines. My favorite glass has to be Riedel,” says Suman Pradhan, the director of outlets and sommelier at Viceroy Snowmass, in Colorado. “They are the world’s leading glassmakers and produce high-quality stemware with specific shapes and designs. Riedel’s designs always complement the different wine grape varieties and regions, whilst adding to the overall enjoyment of a wine.
Best Splurge: Josephinenhutte Red Glass
Hard to source
While these aren’t the most well-known or certainly the most affordable option, there’s an appealing story to these glasses. If you’re a wine nerd, Zalto will be a familiar name. Josepheninenhutte is a new project by the lauded Kurt Zalto, one of the most iconic wine glass artisans in the world (his family’s glassware dynasty is globally renowned and dates back six generations).
The glassware prodigy now produces innovative, elegant glasses using Silesian glassware techniques in the Waldviertel region of Austria. The Champagne glass is particularly stellar, though the red wine glasses (both burgundy and Bordeaux) are bar-none if you are a cellar nerd. They’re whisper-thin, made of hand-blown crystal in Austria. His burgundy glass has a wide base, a slight curve, and big curves to amplify more delicate burgundian reds, plus the tall glass has a showstopping presence on a table.
Best Bordeaux: Spiegelau Salute Bordeaux Wine Glasses (Set of 4)
The perfect glass for Bordeaux
If you’re just getting into wine and want to understand why whisper-thin crystal is exalted by wine pros (without blowing your budget), these are an excellent alternative. They’re the same shape as a higher-end Bordeaux glass and similar in quality, but don’t boast a mile-high price tag.
The German-made glasses beautifully showcase the big bold flavors of Bordeaux, with a big bowl that allows in oxygen to pull out the nuanced flavors of full-bodied blends of cabernet sauvignon, syrah, and merlot and a tall shape that pushes flavors directly to the back of your mouth. If you're a fan of Cali cabs and other fuller wines, this is an excellent glass to have around.
If you need an everyday, all-purpose wine glass and don’t have a budget for crystal, Riedel’s Vinum (view at Liquor.com) or Gabriel-Glas ‘One for All’ glasses (view at Amazon) are excellent for all occasions. If your cellar spans a rainbow of reds, opt for Wine Enthusiast’s complete collection.
What to Look For
Material plays a big role in your glass. Crystal is the gold standard, largely because the material can be formed thin (allowing the wine to better interact with your palate) and is durable (consider that crystal is an incredibly strong material!). The finest of crystal glasses are hand-blown, though machine-blown crystal also offers exceptional quality. Lower down the price point is glass, which is far more affordable but (slightly!) less elegant.
The bowl of the glass will play a huge role in how the wine unfolds.
What types of wines do you drink most frequently? If you love the stories and producers of burgundy, you’re going to want a wide glass specifically crafted for those flavors. If you prefer Bordeaux, choose accordingly—Bordeaux glasses are better for those rich, full, higher-alcohol wines (also great for cabernet sauvignon, cab franc, and the likes!). If you prefer your wines juicy and fresh (think non-cru beaujolais, zweigelt, frappato, etc.), a universal glass will do the trick.
What are the different types of wine glasses?
Glasses are broadly categorized into red, white, and sparkling. From there, red wines can be categorized by universal, Bordeaux, or burgundy.
How many ounces in an average red wine glass?
A standard wine glass holds 12 ounces.
What's the best way to care for/clean red wine glasses?
“My recommendation is to hand wash red wine glasses by holding the glass firmly by the stem and gently scrubbing the bowl with wet soapy water,” says Pradhan. “Always use unscented soap and make sure to rinse the glass thoroughly under hot water to remove any leftover wine or sediment. If you are washing your wine glasses in the dishwasher, the most important thing is to load the dishwasher correctly. Place the glasses securely upside down and make sure to wash separately from any other dishes.”
Why Trust Liquor.com?
Kate Dingwall is a wine and spirits writer and seasoned, WSET-trained sommelier. She has 7 years experience in the writing world, and has spent the last decade working as a sommelier at globally-acclaimed restaurant groups. She has a soft spot for anything from Piedmonte, particularly ruchè and grignolino. If you’re nice, she’ll pour you a glass in her Zaltos.
Céline Bossart is a red wine obsessed French person who has been writing about drinking for the majority of her career. When it comes to glassware, she does not mess around, and neither do the experts with whom she consults.
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