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With so many styles available at a wide range of price points, shopping for wine glasses can be overwhelming. Getting insights from wine experts, though, can ease the process—especially now that the wine scene is moving toward a more pared-down approach to glassware.
“People aren’t into individual glass shapes as much as they used to be,” says Doreen Winkler, a natural wine sommelier and founder of the wine club Orange Glou. “You don’t need a burgundy wine glass to drink burgundy.” Still, specialized glasses will always have their place in fine dining and for the serious at-home drinker.
No matter what your own glassware philosophy might be, durability and versatility are important things to consider when looking for new wine glasses. It’s also worth considering whether you don't mind hand-washing glasses or if you'd rather find ones that are dishwasher-safe.
Here are some of the best wine glasses for any occasion.
Best Overall: Riedel Vinum Viognier/Chardonnay Glasses
Excellent for low-acid wines
Expressive, low-acid wines thrive in Riedel’s 12.4-ounce crystal Vinum Viognier/Chardonnay glasses. This particular collection was first launched in 1986, but the glassware company has been around since the mid-18th century and is credited with pioneering varietal-specific stemware. The mouth of this particular glass is not too narrow, designed to direct the flow of liquid to the desired area of the palate for optimized tasting based on its designated wine style. The Vinum line’s Viognier and Chardonnay glasses also work well for Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio/Gris/Blanc and more. They’re also dishwasher-safe.
Generally speaking, it’s smart to keep glassware specific to medium and fuller-bodied white wines as they can easily stand in as light-bodied red wine glasses, making them ideal for transitioning through a coursed meal.
Good to Know:
“Pick a glass that fits your taste. There is no need for someone who typically only drinks dry white wines to have a massive, flat-bottom Burgundy glass. When you put wine in a drastically wrong corresponding glass, you’re not getting your money's worth in terms of experiencing that wine to its maximum,” describes Jonathan Key, Beverage and Bar Manager at The Preacher's Son and Undercroft.
Best for Red Wine: Open Kitchen by Williams Sonoma Angle Red Wine Glasses
All-purpose and universal
Option to add monograms
Very large bowl is not ideal for acidic whites or bubbles
Stem is rather thick
This all-purpose set of Williams Sonoma red wine glasses is an absolute steal. Combining graceful structural lines with strong curvature, the German-made stemware is lead-free, break-resistant and dishwasher-safe.
The angular silhouette of these striking 22-ounce glasses is more aesthetically pleasing than technically designed. The functionality of the bowls lies in their middle-of-the-road width and shape, making them versatile enough to accommodate any red wine style. The Angle glass can hold its own atop any tablescape, elaborate or not.
Best for White Wine: Schott Zwiesel Sensa White Wine Glasses
Made with Tritan, not crystal
Many white wines take on their finest form in these all-purpose glasses by Schott Zwiesel, a trusted name in the industry. On a technical level, these glasses are designed with lighter-bodied white wines in mind (think Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chenin Blanc and the like), though they would serve any style well.
Made in Germany, the glasses’ durability is perhaps their best feature—the innovative material, which is made using patented titanium technology, bridges the gap between superfine glassware and the dishwasher-safe realm. These 12-ounce glasses make for a great gift, especially given the option to monogram for an extra cost.
Best Specialized Red: Luigi Bormioli Atelier Pinot Noir Red Glass
Very resistant to breakage
Elegant bowl shape
May be too large for the dishwasher
High-tech meets luxury and affordability in Luigi Bormioli’s Atelier collection. Using SON.hyx, the brand’s patented process, the Italian glassware company has created an impressively shock-resistant, highly brilliant, crystal-clear and dishwasher-safe glass.
Thanks to their laser-cut rims, titanium reinforcement and seam-free stems, these glasses are comparable to many of the more top-shelf options on the market. When stocking Pinot Noir glasses (or glasses for any lighter-style red), this is an excellent place to start. These glasses offer a 21-ounce capacity.
Good to Know:
“If you're a connoisseur, buy the most expensive wine glasses you can afford, but make sure that you're not afraid of losing when you knock it over on the table,” says Tobias Hogan of Bar Vivant in Portland, Oregon.
Best Splurge: Zalto Denk'Art Bordeaux Wine Glass
Iconic in the wine industry
Thin lip and luxurious stem
Ask any professional, and they’ll tell you that Zalto is somewhat of an icon in the world of wine, with the Denk’Art line among its most widely beloved. This Austrian-brand was even one of the first to introduce handcrafted and mouth-blown functional glasses to the market, according to Shira Tsiddon, sommelier at The Norman Hotel in Tel Aviv. The beauty of these 23-ounce style-specific glasses, she says, is the combination of elegant, clean lines, thoughtful design inspired by the Earth’s tilt angles, and its versatility to function in both a fine dining setting and in a cabinet at home.
One of the major reasons Zalto Denk'Art Wine Glasses are so esteemed is how light they are, according to Tsiddon. “When pouring the wine and holding the glass up, you cannot feel it exists; the glass is nearly transparent, both visually and physically,” she says. “[It] makes the wine taste even more majestic than it usually does.” If you’re looking for something that looks and feels luxurious, these Bordeaux glasses—designed for rich, full-bodied reds—are your best bet.
"These wine glasses may be pricey, but the thin lip, light weight and elegant stem of a Zalto glass show off a great wine to its best advantage." — Kathryn Maier, Editor
Most Unique: Mark Thomas Double Bend Red Wine Glass
Mark Thomas’ glasses are known for their unique profile and sommelier-loved quality. Made with lead-free crystal, the glasses can survive years of dishwashing without clouding up. They have a shorter stem, making them more stable to hold and giving you more grip when swirling and aerating.
The two bends on this Bordeaux-style glass mark a perfect tasting pour and the ideal single-glass pour. “I stick to a Bordeaux glass as it's the most malleable of the wine glasses,” says Jonathan Key. “Bordeaux glasses are meant for your main Bordeaux grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, etc.), but it's also a great glass for Chardonnay. Bordeaux glasses also work well for a lot of old-world wines like Tuscans and Tempranillos.”
Though they are whisper-thin and special-occasion worthy, you can pop them in the dishwasher after use.
Related: The Best Gifts for Wine Lovers
Best Everyday: Riedel Magnum Ouverture Red Wine Glasses
While there will always be discourse around what glass is perfect for whites and reds, Riedel’s everyday option makes a case for sipping everything out of the same glass. It’s got a slender bowl and a thin lip that will showcase tannic reds, effervescent bubbles, fizzy beers and bright whites equally well. The short stem gives it balance, but it still gives enough room for aerating your wine.
Even though it is crafted from machine-made crystal, the glass feels delicate enough to upgrade your daily drinking routine (though at this price point, you won’t flinch if you break one).
“The concept of buying varietal-specific glasses is antiquated and can be quite overwhelming,” notes Justin Wilson, the director of outlets at SAAM Lounge. “A high-quality stemmed universal wine glass will accommodate most, if not all, wines across the spectrum.”
It’s not the ideal glass for say, a Left Bank Bordeaux, but for a nightcap or a glass with dinner, Riedel’s Ouverture series is an excellent score.
Related: The Best Wine Aerators
Best Stemless: Viski Cactus Crystal Stemless Wine Glass
For parties or rowdier hangs, stemless glasses are less likely to get knocked over. Viski’s options are a little more elegant than most stemless options on the market, with organic lines and curves inspired by cacti. These affordable options are made with lead-free, super-thin crystal.
“Typically, in outdoor or just very casual settings, a stemless is acceptable when drinking lower-priced wines,” explains Key. “Trust me, I've drunk wine out of coffee mugs, cereal bowls, etc. many times. The glassware does not stop me from having my wine, but there is nothing like having a glass that perfectly fits you and your tastes in wine.” These glasses can also be cleaned and stored more easily than stemware.
Related: The Best Wine Openers
Riedel’s glasses are a catch-all option for wine lovers: Pick between the brand’s single-varietal glasses (view at Amazon) or the more easy, everyday machine-blown glasses (view also at Amazon). If you’re opening something special, Zalto’s high-end options are bar-none (see at Amazon).
What to Look for in a Wine Glass
Traditionally, large, rounded bowls showcase the more nuanced flavors of a red; meanwhile, tighter, narrower bowls are ideal for white varietals. “The smaller the bowl, the harder it is for all of those aromas to escape,” describes Thierry Sighel, a 30-year wine industry vet and founder of The Magic of Wine. “Larger bowls allow for more oxygen to come in contact with the wine.”
What size of glass is best for you? It depends on what you drink. “I would recommend starting with a few all-purpose glasses since it works for red and whites. Then you can start adding to your collection with more grape variety-specific glasses,” says Benjamin Gutenbrunner, the beverage director of Blume in New York.
If you’re prone to breakage, or if you’re planning to use these glasses every day, opt for a more durable material. Glass is cheaper, but crystal is a stronger material and will last longer. That said, crystal glasses are more costly and pricey to replace.
If you’re looking for a truly durable glass, Tritan glasses have become an increasingly popular material for high-end glassware. The glass-like material is far stronger than crystal or glass, making Tritan wine glasses resistant to bumps and drops.
Stuck between glass, crystal and plastic? “Durability is the main difference," says Rudzinski. Crystal is the most delicate; it's also the gold standard for wine glasses. "The shape, clarity and ability to be made very thin all add to the overall quality," she adds.
“Hand-blown glasses are much lighter and more fragile than machine-made glasses. They are all unique and one of a kind,” describes Wilson. That said, he believes the average consumer won't be able to tell the difference between the quality of machine-made glasses and hand-blown ones.
How do you clean and care for a wine glass?
Use hot water with a small amount of neutral soap, advises Mara Rudzinski, the sommelier at Contento in Harlem, adding that for some delicate glasses just the former should do the trick. And, "rinse out the glasses immediately after use to avoid any staining," she says.
Tara Guthrie of San Antonio’s Chase’s Place recommends using a soft scrub brush for lees or stains that have accumulated at the bottom. "Avoid trying to scrub the glass with your hands because the crystal could easily break and hurt you." She prefers a bendable brush with a 16-inch handle—it's great for decanters and hard-to-reach red wine stains.
What's the best way to store wine glasses?
Store them in a cabinet away from the kitchen and its cooking aromas, suggests Justin Wilson. “Also, the right amount of humidity is important; that’s why storing them in a wine cellar isn’t the right spot," he adds.
Guthrie says, “Thin-rimmed crystal glasses should be stored bowl up to avoid chips and breaks; however, you can store thicker-rimmed glassware with the bowl downward.”
On average, how many ounces are in a wine glass?
According to Rudzinski, white wine glasses typically have a smaller bowl that holds around 8 to 10 ounces. The universal glass, the go-to vessel for both red and white wine, holds closer to 12 to 16 ounces, describes Rudzinski.
When it comes to serves, Wilson notes, “Traditionally, wine by the glass is served as a 6-ounce pour across the industry. Tasting pours or half-glasses have been popular and may be served as a 2-ounce or 3-ounce pour.”
Do you need different glasses for different wines?
“Different types of glass or crystal are more appropriate for various environments,” describes Diane Clemenhagen of Geraldine’s in Austin. “A busy restaurant or bar will need something a bit more durable, while your home collection might get less use and can be more delicate." A good rule of thumb, she says, is the fewer times you use it, the more delicate you can go, and vice versa.
Does your glass need a stem?
Stem versus no-stem is a personal choice—however, Rudzinski notes, “While I am not opposed to stemless models of glassware, I would always select a wine glass with a stem." This is because a stem helps keep the temperature of the wine constant. Plus, it gives you more control to swirl and aerate the wine, which more of its aromas.
Why Trust Liquor.com?
Céline Bossart's entire journalistic career has been rooted in the world of beverage. Naturally, this involves extensive market research, which translates to a robust glassware collection built over the years.
Kate Dingwall, who updated this piece, is an experienced spirits writer and WSET-trained sommelier with an award-winning restaurant group. She has been writing about the bar and spirits world for five years, including extensive coverage on glassware. She drinks from Riedel’s Ouverture every day, from a Waterford vintage cut crystal when she’s feeling fancy, and a Josephinenhütte when she’s breaking out the good stuff.