Proper glassware is more than just a flourish for your dining table. The right glass changes how you smell and taste wine, and it should inspire confidence as you swirl, sniff, and sip. With the help of experts, we have blind-tasted wine from nearly 100 glasses since 2014 and think the best everyday choice is the Libbey Signature Kentfield Estate All-Purpose Wine Glass. It’s inexpensive yet elegant, and in our testing it enhanced the aromas of both red and white wines better than most of the competition.
The Libbey Signature Kentfield Estate All-Purpose Wine Glass has all the features we look for in finer stemware at a bargain price, and it’s versatile enough to be the only wine glass you need. The shape is nicely balanced with a thin lip that makes it feel more sophisticated than other clunky, inexpensive glasses. It’s also dishwasher safe and durable enough to withstand the rigors of daily use. We particularly recommend this glass for people who tend to drink wine that costs $20 or less per bottle (this glass won’t necessarily highlight the nuanced aromas and flavors of pricier wines) or for those who regularly entertain.
If you want something that looks and feels more special than the Libbey glass and showcases wines with more nuance (particularly wines in the over $20 per bottle category), we recommend the Gabriel-Glas StandArt. It’s versatile and performed as well in our taste tests as glasses costing twice as much. Nice glasses shouldn’t be reserved for special occasions, so we appreciate that the StandArt isn’t so expensive that you’ll be afraid to use it every day. The slightly angled bowl is an elegant touch that enhances swirling, and most testers also found the heavier weight and thicker stem of the StandArt more comfortable to use than the ultrathin Zalto Denk’Art Universal Glass, our previous upgrade pick.
For casual drinking, we recommend the Rastal Harmony glass, which is sturdier and better looking than the other stemless options we tested. The angled sides give it a modern look and also make it hard to knock over, which is ideal for large parties. The Harmony was pleasant to drink out of and a comfortable size for most people to wrap their hand around. While it didn’t do much to enhance delicate wines, it handled young, fruity wines well. Our experts recommend the Harmony for enjoying inexpensive, refreshing wines, but you could also use it as a water or highball glass. Just know that all stemless glasses come with downsides: Because you have to hold them by the bowl, your hands will warm up the wine, while leaving unsightly fingerprints on the outside.
The pros we spoke to agreed that the best thing to drink Champagne out of is a wine glass. But there’s a lot of fine print to that statement, and if you don’t typically spend $40 or more on a bottle of Champagne to drink at home, a flute will still do the job nicely. Plus, flutes offer an elegant look that differs from a wine glass, and are a must for any celebration. The most important consideration when choosing a Champagne flute is whether or not it makes you feel good when you hold it. Riedel’s Cuvee Prestige strikes an elegant profile while still being comfortable to drink from. The tulip shape also walks the line between that of a tall flute and the more useful (aromatically speaking) bowl of a traditional wine glass. Made from nonleaded crystal, the Cuvee Prestige also sparkles brilliantly under the light. A tiny, imperceptible etching at the bottom of the bowl keeps your wine carbonated for as long as possible.
Why you should trust us
In our research for the 2019 update, we consulted wine importer Mary Taylor and Hannah Harris, a manager and sommelier at the restaurant Pasquale Jones in New York City. In previous years, we’ve spoken with other wine professionals, including Eric Asimov, wine critic for The New York Times (parent company of Wirecutter); Scott Carney, master sommelier and dean of wine studies at The International Culinary Center in New York; Michele Thomas, a sommelier and freelance wine and spirits writer; and Kristin Wastell, then the visitor center manager at the Ravenswood Winery Tasting Room in Sonoma, California. Over the years, some of these experts have also helped us conduct our taste tests for this guide.
We also spoke to chemosensory specialists, such as Steven D. Munger, PhD, director at the Center of Taste and Smell at the University of Florida, and Terry Acree, PhD, a professor in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University. Additionally, we reached out to glass experts such as Jane Cook, PhD, chief scientist at the Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG) in Corning, New York, and William C. LaCourse, PhD, a professor in the Glass Engineering Department at Alfred University in Alfred, New York.
To find out what makes a great Champagne glass, we spoke to wine professionals, including Belinda Chang, former Champagne educator for Moët Hennessy; David Speer, the owner of Ambonnay in Portland, Oregon; and Philippe Gouze, the director of operations at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, the world-renowned farm-to-table restaurant outside New York City. Additionally, we interviewed Maximilian Riedel, CEO of Riedel, to learn more about the history, development, and production of Riedel stemware.
Tammie Teclemariam, who worked on the 2019 update, is a freelance food and drinks writer and wine professional. Since 2011 she has worked in restaurants, wine distribution and retail, and completed a six-month viticulture and winemaking apprenticeship at Clos Centeilles in Minervois, France. She researched more than 50 glasses and tested 14.
Staff writer Michael Sullivan has reviewed dinnerware, drinking glasses, and flatware, along with other kitchen equipment for Wirecutter. He previously worked in restaurants and bartended for several years. He researched more than 250 wine glasses and tested over 50 for the 2017 update to this guide. In 2014, writer Eve O’Neill tested 33 glasses for the original guide, with the help of Jeff Cohn, owner and head winemaker at Jeff Cohn Cellars.
How we picked
When deciding which wine glasses to test and which to recommend, we turned to our experts, who helped us determine what to look for in the ideal wine glass. Here are the features we looked for:
We primarily focused on stemmed wine glasses for this guide, because they offer a better drinking experience than stemless glasses. As New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov noted, “The benefit of the stem is mostly that you’re not affecting the temperature of the wine with the heat of your hands.” When you hold a stemless glass, you quickly warm the wine past the optimal drinking temperature. Furthermore, you leave unsightly fingerprints all over the bowl of the glass, especially after touching food. That said, most of our experts agree that a stemless choice is fine for casual drinking, and we recognize that it’s popular among many people, so we did include a stemless pick in this guide.
Clear, thin glass
Based on our experts’ recommendations, we looked for clear, unadorned, and smooth wine glasses, which allow for a view of the liquid inside. We ruled out anything colored, decorative, and made of heavy crystal with patterned etchings. Additionally, we looked for glasses free of imperfections—bends, warps, bubbles, or egregious seams on the stem, which are signs of poor quality and can lead to breakage.
We also ruled out glasses with thick rims and clunky stems, because they feel (and usually are) cheap. After sorting through hundreds of glasses for this guide, it’s clear that the less expensive the glass, the thicker the bowl and the stem become. All of our experts were partial to glasses with a thin rim because it felt best against their lips—more elegant and less distracting. In general they preferred crystal, which tends to be thinner than soda-lime glass but also more expensive.
For the sake of including some less expensive options, we did test some wine glasses made from soda-lime glass in addition to ones made from non-leaded crystal. Ultimately, we found elegant, thin-enough glasses made from both materials. (You can read more about the differences between types of glass later in this guide.)
Medium, tulip-shaped bowl
The size of the bowl (the part of the glass that holds the wine) affects how well you can swirl the wine and detect its aroma. Asimov told us: “You want a bowl that’s big enough to hold a healthy amount of wine while really being no more than a third full. That gives you plenty of room to swirl the wine without fearing you’re going to throw it across the room or onto your shirt.” We looked for all-purpose glasses from 14 to 19 fluid ounces, which we found big enough to expose red wine to enough oxygen to let aromas become detectable, and still small enough to preserve the subtle aromas of delicate whites.
We also narrowed our search to glasses with a slight tulip shape to the bowl, which showcases the aroma of wines best (see this CNN article on how the shape of a glass can affect the taste of wine). Asimov told us, “You want the diameter of the rim to be a little less wide than the widest part of the bowl. That helps to channel aromas upward and makes the aromas of the wine a little bit easier to detect.” We eliminated glasses that didn’t taper inward at the top, such as the flared Riedel Vivant Burgundy.
Though we only looked at glasses with tapered bowls, the shape can vary dramatically depending on the maker. Most manufacturers sell many stemware lines, each varying in height, width, shape, and quality of glass. We looked at a range of glasses in many styles with both rounded bowls like our main pick, the Libbey Signature Kentfield Estate All-Purpose Wine Glass, and angled bowls, such as the Zalto Denk’Art Universal Glass. Ultimately, we found both rounded and angular glasses that we liked—and other than the size and shape of the bowl, choosing wine glasses is a matter of aesthetics and personal taste.
Long, thin stem
We avoided wine glasses that were too short and stubby, because they lack elegance and are unattractive in comparison to glasses with longer, more classic stems. The stem also needs to be long enough to comfortably hold the glass without your hand touching the bowl, which could warm the wine and leave smudges. But we still wanted the glasses to be short enough to easily fit in a cupboard or the top rack of a dishwasher. In our testing, we found the ideal height of a wine glass is about 8 to 9 inches.
In our tests, the thinnest glasses generally did an excellent job highlighting the flavors and aromas of multiple wines, and most people found them handsome to look at. But in actual practice, many of our testers remarked that the thinnest stems were difficult to grip and felt poised to break during use. Even knowing that those thinner glasses are more durable than they appear (all remained intact in our drop tests), most people were nervous using them. Ultimately, the glasses we favored hit a nice middle ground: thin enough to feel elegant but thick enough to feel comfortable.
We looked for glasses that were well-balanced and didn’t feel wobbly when full of wine. The best had bases that were about the same circumference as the widest part of the bowl. Glasses with a small base are easier to knock over and, in some cases, can feel top-heavy when full. Bases that are too wide are sturdier, but some of our experts pointed out that they could catch on the edge of a plate, which is easy to do on a crowded table. A base that is too wide can also make the rest of the glass look off.
The overall weight is also important. A glass that feels almost weightless when empty can feel unbalanced when it is full of wine, while an excessively heavy glass is unpleasant to sip from and cumbersome to hold. We looked for options that struck a comfortable balance.
For Champagne, bubble preservation
While most wine professionals agree that the wider shape of a wine glass lets the aromatics of a premium bottle of Champagne (think $40 and above) open and develop better than a Champagne flute does, there are situations (like a Champagne toast) that call for the celebratory stemware. The tall, narrow shape of a flute also helps keep your bubbly from going flat too quickly. So for our Champagne glass pick, we looked for shapes that preserved carbonation well, but didn’t close off the aromas of the sparkling wine too much.
How we tested
For our 2019 update, we tested our previous picks against eight new glasses in a blind tasting with Mary Taylor, a wine importer and distributor who has previously worked as a sommelier. After we eliminated all varietal and red- or white-specific glasses from our testing, we looked for the most versatile all-purpose glasses by tasting six vastly different wines in every glass, including $15-to-$20 reds and whites, a $10 red, aged wine, and natural wine.
We also polled a dozen members of Wirecutter staff on how they drink at home and asked them to taste wine from the glasses they were most attracted to, then to score the experience. We noted not only how wine smelled and tasted in each glass, but also how each glass felt to hold, swirl, and drink from. Between each round of tests, we washed all of the glasses in the dishwasher and polished them by hand using a microfiber cloth.
To check for durability, we also performed drop tests with all of our finalists: We knocked them over 10 times onto a hardwood surface, both when the glass was empty and filled one-third full with water. We also hit the bowl of the glass against the edge of a granite counter to see how it would fare.
For past versions of this guide, we’ve performed similar tests. In 2014, Jeff Cohn, owner and head winemaker at Jeff Cohn Cellars, helped us taste from and review 33 wine glasses. For our 2017 update, wine critic Eric Asimov and sommelier Michele Thomas blind-tested with 53 glasses in the Wirecutter test kitchen. Mark McKenzie, an NYC-based sommelier, poured wine for those tastings and also offered his insight.
When choosing a celebratory Champagne flute, we wanted to know if there was one particular shape of glass that excelled at preserving carbonation better than another shape. To test this, we poured 2 ounces of bubbly into four differently shaped glasses and waited 15 minutes to let some of the carbonation escape. Then we added a Mentos to each glass to accelerate the nucleation process and release most of the carbonation that was left—whichever glass produced the most fizz had preserved carbonation the best. Tulip-shaped bowls were the big winner, in both practicality and bubble preservation.
Our pick: Libbey Signature Kentfield Estate All-Purpose Wine Glass
The best wine glass for everyday use is the Libbey Signature Kentfield Estate All-Purpose Wine Glass. We particularly recommend this inexpensive, 16-ounce tulip-shaped glass if you mostly drink bottles of wine in the $20 or less range, enjoy entertaining, or simply want a set of stemware that doesn’t cost a fortune. The Libbey was a favorite of our experts and non-experts alike, showcased the aromas of both reds and whites well, and has a classic look that’s appropriate for daily use or formal occasions. It’s nicely balanced and durable, with a thin lip that doesn’t distract from enjoying the overall drinking experience. It’s also dishwasher safe.
Our experts were better able to detect the subtle aromas of both red and white wines in the tulip-shaped Libbey than in many of the other glasses we tested. In our blind tasting, wine importer Mary Taylor noted that “this shape holds the aromas in tighter,” which made it better for a lightly oaked white wine than the large and stately Korin Sena Bordeaux glass, another inexpensive glass in our lineup.
Our experts and other testers found all the components of the Libbey glass, including the size of the bowl, length of the stem, and diameter of the base to be well-balanced. Taylor said it felt elegant to hold, “but not scary like I'm going to break the glass if I sneeze.” Several of our Wirecutter staff testers said this glass was the one they were most likely to buy for their own use for its classic shape and balanced look. “It has the appropriate proportions and good weight,” said wine critic Eric Asimov. “It feels comfortable to hold.”
While the Libbey glass is slightly thicker than fine crystal stemware, it’s still thin and elegant enough for dinner parties, which is great, especially if you’re wary of giving an expensive glass to rowdy guests. Made from what Libbey calls its ClearFire formula for soda-lime glass, it does seem to sparkle more under the light than other soda-lime glass offerings in this price category.
Though Asimov noted the Libbey glass was “a little lippy on top” and thick compared with some of the other glasses we tested, it’s still remarkably thin for such an inexpensive glass. Typically, thinner rims and elongated stems are features we see in glasses costing nearly two or three times as much. Asimov also observed that the Libbey glass “doesn’t have that ridge on the stem,” whereas other inexpensive glasses, such as the Libbey Allure All-Purpose Wine Glass, commonly have an unattractive seam going up the length of the stem.
The Libbey glass comes with a 25-year manufacturer’s chip warranty, which means the company will replace your glass if it chips during normal use (just be sure to save the chipped glass, as you may be asked to return it). Naturally, this doesn’t cover breaks.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
A Libbey Kentfield glass did break in our 2019 drop test, but so did the Korin Sena Bordeaux, the other stemmed model we tested under $10 per glass. Otherwise, it was easy to load the Libbey into the dishwasher, and we were even able to fit it comfortably on the bottom rack, unlike more expensive glasses, which were too light to stay in place. And since the Libbey glasses are so inexpensive, you won’t be heartbroken if one does break.
The Kentfield performed best with the wines we tried in the $10 to $20 range, amplifying generous fruit flavors. Taylor noted that it hid flaws better than the less expensive Korin Bordeaux glass on the $10 red, but with the $25 pinot noir it “concentrates sulphur and sweetness” and is a “better glass for inexpensive wine.” If you regularly enjoy wines that cost more than $20, you may want to spring for the Gabriel-Glas StandArt, our upgrade pick, which performed beautifully with all the wines we tasted.
While the stem on the Libbey glass is long enough to hold comfortably without touching the bowl, it’s not quite as thin or elegant as more expensive glasses. The Libbey also weighs more than our other picks, at around 5.8 ounces, though our testers said they didn’t find it distracting. The stem has a slight bulge where it meets the bowl of the glass, but again, our testers didn’t comment on it. What the Libbey lacks in elegance, it makes up for in price.
Upgrade pick: Gabriel-Glas StandArt
With its elegant shape and excellent performance, the Gabriel-Glas StandArt is a smart investment for people who regularly spend more than $20 on a bottle and are interested in appreciating the finer details of wine. It performed well with all the wines we tasted, including the aged red, which other glasses struggled with. It’s also a beautiful object with a unique silhouette that stands out without being ostentatious. It performed just as well as competitors twice the price and doesn’t feel so delicate that you’ll only opt to use it from time to time.
Mary Taylor, one of our experts, noted that among the glasses she tried, the StandArt “does the best job for the nose” and that “it shows fruit and hides flaws.” This glass performed well across all of the wine styles we tested, whereas the Libbey was not as universally flattering.
It’s sometimes advised that you should spend the same amount of money on a wine glass that you would for a typical bottle of wine.
This glass showed aromas as well as lighter, pricier glasses like the Zalto (which are technically more difficult to make and cost more as a result), but our testers preferred the extra heft of the StandArt in addition to the way it performed. That extra weight keeps the StandArt from feeling top-heavy when filled with a larger pour and gave our testers more confidence in the durability of the glass. Although the quality and craftsmanship of the Zalto are exceptional, it intimidated most of our testers in practice. Despite being assured of the Zalto’s surprising durability, people still had a hard time getting comfortable with the ultrathin glass. Even wine professionals who own Zaltos admit they reserve them for special occasions. But the StandArt, being heftier than the Zalto and half the price, is a glass you don’t have to feel nervous about using several times a week.
The StandArt passed our drop tests without a crack and is dishwasher safe. It’s made of molded rather than blown non-leaded crystal (though Gabriel-Glas also produces a mouth-blown Gold edition of the glass that we did not test), so it’s visibly thicker than a mouth-blown Zalto glass and about 1.5 times as heavy at around 5.3 ounces. But it’s a bit lighter than the Libbey Kentfield glass, and the rim feels thin and unobtrusive in your mouth. Many of our testers also loved the StandArt for it’s stylish shape, one that bridges the gap between modern angled sides and the more classic round bowl.
It’s sometimes advised that you should spend the same amount of money on a wine glass that you would for a typical bottle of wine. While $32 is not inexpensive for any single piece of tableware, in the spectrum of glasses, wine paraphernalia, and wine itself, the StandArt is relatively affordable for the experience it delivers.
Also great: Rastal Harmony
For stemless glassware, we recommend the Rastal Harmony, an inexpensive, durable glass with a modern look. Although it was the most compact of the stemless glasses we tested, the angled edges of the Harmony made it easy to swirl and aerate wine. This glass was also the most comfortable to handle among the stemless options we tested. While it’s not great at enhancing the flavor of more delicate wines, the Harmony is versatile enough to use for water and cocktails, so the set you acquire for casual wine drinking can pull double duty as a water glass during more formal moments.
We found the Harmony to be more attractive than the more traditionally shaped Ravenscroft glass, our previous pick for stemless glassware. The angled edges of the Harmony made for a sturdier glass that was almost impossible to knock over during our drop tests (it often popped back upright like a punching clown). If you choose stemless glasses for parties or large dinners, the Rastal Harmony takes up less space on a table and packs more easily into the dishwasher. Other glasses we tested felt more regal than befits a stemless glass and ended up feeling too clunky.
The Rastal Harmony glasses are great for casual drinking and also work well as cocktail or water glasses. Photo: Michael Murtaugh
One of the big drawbacks of all stemless glasses is that they quickly become smudged with fingerprints. Photo: Michael Murtaugh
Aside from the inherent drawbacks of all stemless wine glasses—they show fingerprints, and your hand will warm the wine while drinking—the Rastal glass has a slight lip. However, since we recommend stemless glasses for casual use, we’re willing to forgive this minor issue. Although the rim is slightly thicker than the Ravenscroft’s, most testers found the inexpensive Harmony to be more fun to drink from.
The best champagne flute: Riedel Vinum Cuvee Prestige
According to the experts we interviewed, you don’t really need a separate glass for Champagne. In fact, the wider, tulip shape of a wine glass does a much better job of enhancing the delicate aromas of pricier bubblies. That said, you may still want a Champagne flute for special celebrations where a toast is in order, or for cocktails like the French 75, that are traditionally served in a flute.
We researched over 80 glasses and tested 10. Aside from comfort and overall aesthetics, we were mainly looking for glasses that excelled at preserving carbonation. The clear winner from our tests was the Riedel Vinum Cuvee Prestige. Its tulip shape walks the line between that of a tall flute and the more useful (aromatically speaking) bowl of a traditional wine glass, and has ample capacity to hold a generous pour of bubbly without overflowing. It also has a tiny imperceptible etching at the bottom of the bowl that allows the gas to escape in a steady flow from a single targeted place, keeping the wine carbonated for as long as possible. Considering the quality craftsmanship and materials, this flute is a bargain at about $25 per glass. Made from non-leaded crystal, the Cuvee Prestige sparkles brilliantly under the light.
If you’re looking for elegant glasses that are still cheap enough to buy in bulk for parties, we also recommend the Crate and Barrel Viv. The Viv is made of regular soda-lime glass, not crystal, so it won’t shimmer under the light like the Cuvee Prestige. Its long classic-flute shape won’t do much for the aromatics of your wine, and its narrow opening might also hit your nose when you sip. However, it’s more refined and has a thinner lip than most of the restaurant-grade options that are typically available in this price range.
Why we don’t recommend varietal-specific glasses
Traditionally, wine glasses have been sold on the premise that you need a smaller bowl for white wines and a larger one for reds. But our tests proved that a smaller glass doesn’t enhance white wines for most tasters. Similarly, the biggest reds could be as expressive in a medium-size universal glass as in an XL cabernet model. Plus, there are plenty of complex and aromatic white wines that benefit from intense swirling in a larger glass just as much as a chewy red can.
As far as glasses for red wine, it is also suggested that wine drinkers need a Bordeaux glass, the tall tulip shape that most glasses resemble, and a Burgundy glass, with a wider bowl intended for lower alcohol pinot noir. To decide if we would include Burgundy glasses in our picks, we tested two, the Korin Sena Burgundy and the Zalto Denk’Art Burgundy, with the others in our lineup. They both performed well with pinot noir, but we could imagine their bulbous shape taking up significantly more space in a cabinet or on a table than Bordeaux or universal glasses. Also, they were not as beneficial to other grapes. Meanwhile, our winning universal glasses performed almost as nicely at showcasing that same pinot noir.
Some glassware manufacturers, most notably Riedel, take the concept one step further and have glasses specially designed for many varietals such as chardonnay and riesling. If you have particular allegiance toward a certain grape variety and the cabinet space to store unitasking glassware, matching your wine to the perfect glass can be a fun and expensive hobby.
That said, even the wine professionals we spoke with don’t use varietal-specific glasses at home. Eric Asimov told us, “I don’t really put stock in the notion that you need different glasses for different types of wine. I think that’s an affectation and promoted heavily by self-interested wine glass manufacturers. … But it’s also a psychological thing, and if you believe it, then it’s fine.” Unless you have the space or enjoy the look of formal place settings, having multiple glasses for every type of wine is impractical.
Care and maintenance
Light weight does not indicate a glass is more fragile. In our drop tests, the lightest glasses performed admirably, almost bouncing back after they fell, while the two that broke were some of the heaviest. At Pasquale Jones, a 55-seat restaurant in Manhattan, they exclusively use thin, lightweight Zalto universal glasses for all of their service. The 150 to 200 glasses in use on any given day are washed in a high-speed bar glass dishwasher with a rack modified to fit the fine stemware before being dried and checked for lint by their polisher. Hannah Harris, a manager and sommelier there, says they only break one or two glasses a night, a normal amount for any busy restaurant of that size.
Although it may seem counterintuitive with delicate stemware, we recommend cleaning wine glasses in the dishwasher. In fact, some high-end wine glasses specify not just that they are dishwasher safe, but that machine washing is preferred. This is because the biggest risk for breaking comes during handwashing, where a glass can slip and hit the sink or snap if you twist the bowl and stem in opposite directions. But if you must handwash glasses, we recommend cleaning delicate stemware with hot water, a bottle brush, and a little bit of dish soap.
There are a few guidelines to follow when washing your wine glasses in the dishwasher, which we’ve outlined in a separate piece on how to clean and polish stemware. The basic takeaways are these: Make sure your glasses are secure, and won’t scrape against other dishes. Ideally wash them on the top rack (many dishwashers allow you to lower the rack if there’s not enough clearance). Use rinse aid and be wary of using too much detergent, which in the short term can leave a residue that will mar the flavor of wine and mess with the bubbles in Champagne, and in the long term may etch your glassware (how much is too much depends on a few variables, which we outline in that piece, but one big thing to look out for is whether your dishes come out smelling like detergent––a bad sign).
To remove water spots and smudges, or to get your glassware really sparkly, we recommend hand polishing it using a microfiber polishing cloth. If there are hard-to-remove stains on the glass, try using a little white vinegar (just be sure to wash the glass after). Never polish your glass by holding the base in one hand and twisting the polishing cloth around the rim of the bowl at the top, which could torque and snap thinner stems. Instead, hold the glass by the bowl while polishing to avoid twisting it apart. Check out this Riedel video for the proper polishing technique. Also, never use linen softener when cleaning your polishing cloth, as this could leave a greasy residue on the surface of your wine glasses.
The difference between crystal, non-leaded crystal, and soda-lime glass
When purchasing wine glasses, it’s helpful to understand some basic terms—including crystal, non-leaded crystal, and soda-lime glass—to ensure you know what you’re buying.
Soda-lime glass is primarily made from about 60 to 75 percent silica (sand), 12 to 18 percent soda ash (sodium carbonate), and 5 to 12 percent lime (calcined limestone), according to the Corning Museum of Glass online dictionary. Since it’s so versatile and inexpensive to produce, this type of glass is commonly used for everything from drinking glasses to pickle jars.
Non-leaded (or lead-free) crystal, not to be confused with quartz crystal, is a type of lead-free glass that’s similar in appearance to leaded crystal (which most manufacturers have moved away from using, since lead is a very toxic, highly regulated material). It’s more refractive—that is, super-sparkly––than soda-lime glass, and more expensive. Wine glass makers can also pull it thinner than soda-lime glass, which results in thin rims and flawless bowls and stems. While there are many formulas used to make non-leaded crystal, glass manufacturers commonly use additives such as barium. Jane Cook, chief scientist at CMOG, explains, “Barium crystal is far less toxic, but it’s also harder than leaded crystal. It’s not going to scratch as easily. It’s going to look a little bit different, and it’s not going to have the same color profile.” Keep in mind that non-leaded crystal can also be referred to as “crystal,” which is confusing, so we recommend contacting the manufacturer directly if you’re uncertain, or if it’s not clearly labeled on the box.
Leaded crystal, a type of colorless glass containing lead oxide, is no longer commonly used by glassware manufacturers. It’s highly refractive, and softer than soda-lime glass, which makes it easier to cut and polish. But it has largely been replaced by non-leaded crystal, which shares many of the same qualities. Regarding the toxicity of leaded glassware, articles in The New York Times and Wine Spectator indicate that leaded crystal is safe to drink from. Our science editor, Leigh Krietsch Boerner, PhD, confirmed the only potential danger with leaded crystal crops up if booze is stored in it. That gives the lead time to leach into the liquid, so avoid storing alcohol in leaded-crystal decanters.
“Machine blown” or “mouth blown” are terms often used by stemware manufacturers to indicate how a glass is formed. As you’d expect, mouth-blown glasses cost considerably more than most machine-blown glasses due to the labor and skill involved to produce it. Stemware can also be made by mold pressing, or mold blowing, or a glassware manufacturer might use a combination of blown and molded pieces to create stemware.
All-purpose wine glasses
Zalto’s Denk’Art Universal glass was previously our upgrade pick and is widely considered the sine qua non of fine glassware among oenophiles and restaurant goers. Hand-blown in Austria, it’s an incredibly elegant glass that stands out from the rest with sharp angles and an exceptionally thin rim and stem. Our two main issues with the Zalto Universal are its price and its light weight, both of which deterred most people from wanting to use the glass in the first place. Even though it’s a great glass, the differences between tasting with a Zalto and with the Gabriel-Glas StandArt were not significant enough to recommend spending twice as much. Additionally, most testers find the stem too thin and the glass too top-heavy when full, causing more stress on the hand and making the glass a bad choice for anyone with grip issues. While the Zalto glass offers a rarified experience and look, we prefer using it in restaurants, where you aren’t responsible for washing and polishing afterward.
The Jancis Robinson x Richard Brendon glass is the result of a highly anticipated collaboration between an English design company and Jancis Robinson, an acclaimed wine critic. The lightweight, hand-blown glass is a competitor with Zalto and is similarly pricey at around $60 per glass plus shipping. The bowl is rounded rather than angled, which gives it a more classic look, but the thin profile tells you this is a modern glass. This glass performs extremely well, and wine importer Mary Taylor noticed it worked best with aged red wine. But our testers had the same discomfort gripping such a thin stem that they did using the Zalto.
We were impressed by the Bordeaux Sena glass from Japanese tableware store Korin. At $4 per glass, these were the least expensive glasses we tested and proved to be durable and well liked by our tasters and wine professionals. Although these were the biggest, heaviest glasses we tested, many people, including expert Mary Taylor, felt the most comfortable using the thicker glass and the large bowl did justice to most wines tested. If you can get to the company’s Manhattan store, the glasses are a deal, but with shipping factored in the price is almost equal to that of the widely available Libbey glasses.
The Zenology Universal Wine Glass was impressive on first inspection, and even lighter than the Jancis Robinson glass. But unlike with the other ultralight glasses we tested, the lip on the Zenology felt a little rough and almost sharp to sip from. Additionally, this was the only glass that broke during delivery, right at the point where the bowl meets the stem, a common weak point for wine glasses, though Wine Enthusiast sells it with a 10-year limited warranty.
It was hard for the Riedel Zinfandel/Riesling Grand Cru to stand out in our most recent tests even though it was previously recommended. The glass was slightly smaller than most of the others tested, and the majority of the people were not attracted to it right away. When we tried it with a simple red and white wine, it didn’t impress us enough to recommend over universal glasses.
The Riedel Ouverture Magnum was a previous top pick. However, in a later round of testing, our experts found the stem on the Ouverture Magnum too short and unpleasant to hold. Though it did well in our taste tests, our experts felt that the Libbey all-purpose glass was an all-around better glass.
Additionally, after our blind taste testing, we were able to dismiss other wine glasses from Stölzle, Riedel, Nachtmann, Schott Zwiesel, Spiegelau, Luigi Bormioli, Bormioli Rocco, Snowe, Libbey, Mikasa, Luminarc, Ravenscroft, Rogaska, Rosenthal, Villeroy & Boch, Lenox, Waterford, Crate and Barrel, IKEA, Target, and Bed Bath & Beyond. We were able to rule out wine glasses from these competitors based on the tasting results from our experts, or issues relating to limited availability and quality. Additionally, we looked at offerings from CB2, Fishs Eddy, Pottery Barn, Sur la Table, Williams Sonoma, World Market, and Macy’s, but ultimately we were able to dismiss them because they didn’t meet the criteria for this guide.
Stemless wine glasses
We also tested the Bormioli Atelier stemless cabernet glass, which was so heavy it outweighed most of the stemware in our lineup. It’s also enormous and too wide for most people to grip or swirl with ease.
Our testers found the Riedel O Wine Tumbler too big for white wines and uncomfortable to hold. We wished this glass had a smaller bowl with a slightly narrower opening.
Varietal-specific wine glasses
We no longer recommend varietal-specific glasses, but we have tested a number of them. Here’s what we thought:
The Riedel Vinum Zinfandel/Riesling glass is a previous pick that failed to stand out in recent testing. The shape was a little too simple, even compared with the Libbey, and the size of the bowl was a little too small for swirling. The construction is still nice, with a thin lip and medium weight.
The Zalto Denk’Art Burgundy glass stood out the most in our lineup, sharing the same impossibly thin stem as the Zalto Denk’Art Universal glass, with a massive Hershey’s Kiss–shaped bowl resting on top. This glass was hard to store and stressful to wash, and when pitted against a universal glass with a pinot noir there wasn’t much of a difference in performance, according to most of our non-professional tasters.
We were eager to test Korin’s Sena Burgundy glass based on its budget-friendly price. Our professional taster did not recommend it over a universal glass for most wines, but she noted it performed well with the rustic natural wine she tried in it.
Both the Bormioli Rocco Tre Sensi Large Wine Glass and the Tre Sensi Medium Wine Glass did well in our blind tasting. However, they have a slight lip around the rim of the glass, which our testers found more distracting than our main pick for varietal-specific glasses, the Riedel Veritas glasses.
Like the Crate and Barrel Edge, the trumpet-shaped Bormioli Rocco Ypsilon Flute couldn’t preserve carbonation as well as the other flutes we tested.
We ruled out a number of other champagne flutes for a variety of reasons, including weight, height, shape, fragility, high cost, and availability issues. The following glasses were among those that we dismissed: the Bormioli Rocco Riserva, the Lenox Tuscany Classics, the Peugeot Esprit 180, the Stolzle Classic Flutes, the Stolzle Revolution, the Spiegelau Festival, the Spiegelau Vino Grande, the Spiegelau Winelovers, the Spiegelau Hybrid, the Wine Enthusiast Fusion Infinity, the Iittala Essence, the Schott Zwiesel Cru Classic, the Schott Zwiesel Forte, the Schott Zwiesel Classico, the Schott Zwiesel Mondial, the Zalto Denk’Art, the Rogaska Expert, the Nachtmann Vivendi, and the Nachtmann Supreme.
We also eliminated high-end, expensive, and decorative offerings from Baccarat, Lalique, Orrefors, Kate Spade, Villeroy & Boch, Vera Wang, Waterford (other than the Marquis), Mikasa (except the Stephanie), Reed & Barton, Noritake, Ralph Lauren, Nambé, Ritzenhoff, and Royal Doulton. And we eliminated workhorse brands like Libbey, Luminarc, and IKEA that would not be able to compete against the thinner glassware up for consideration in this guide.
C. Claiborne Ray, Q & A: Lead Crystal Risks, The New York Times, August 19, 2003
Ask Dr. Vinny: Is it safe to use a lead crystal decanter?, Wine Spectator, May 30, 2007
Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, How to Select a Good Wine Glass, The Wall Street Journal
James Laube, The Perfect Wineglass: One Size Fits All, Wine Spectator, July 10, 2009
Nancy Mitchell, Budget Basics: The Best Beautiful Wine Glasses Under $10, Apartment Therapy, October 5, 2015
What is the difference between glass and crystal?, Corning Museum of Glass, September 17, 2016
Dr. Robert Brill, Will the Lead in Glass Cups and Decanters Leach into Their Contents?, July 19, 2016
Glass Dictionary, Corning Museum of Glass
Mary Gorman-McAdams, A Guide to Wine Glass Brands: A Few Favorites, Both Classic and Fun!, The Kitchn, April 25, 2012
Gordon M. Shepherd, Neuroenology: How the Brain Creates the Taste of Wine
The many different wine and cocktail glasses you’ve seen aren’t just for show. A lot of them actually serve a specific purpose. Just as drinks differ, so can the vessels you drink them from. And if you’re a fan of Champagne, Prosecco or other sparkling wines, you’re going to want to have a few flute glasses in your arsenal.
Dating back to the 1700s, the flute glass is perfect for a number of alcoholic beverages with a little fizz. Its long slender bowl, which curves inward ever so slightly near the top, helps your drink—which can include certain fruit beers—maintain its carbonation by minimizing the surface area of the liquid. The stem, meanwhile, allows you to hold the glass comfortably without warming up your drink.
If you’ve got a party coming up, or if you just want to enjoy some bubbly by yourself, then now’s a great time to invest in a set of flute glasses. Here are four of the very best on Amazon.
1. Marquis by Waterford Markham Flute
Special occasions call for special glasses. For these moments, Marquis by Waterford’s flutes are just what you’re looking for. Made from lead-free crystal, each vessel features an elegant, diamond pattern carved into the lower half of the bowl. The stem has a nice sculptural look, too, adding to the overall look of the glass. One thing to note: You’ll definitely want to wash this set-of-four by hand.
Marquis by Waterford Markham Flute: $56.61
2. Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Champagne Flute
A Champagne flute should be stylish, and that’s just want Schott Zwiesel’s glasses are. The brand’s vessel looks like a traditional flute, except with subtle, rounded angles rather than the more common soft, gradual curve. This design touch also means the glass will work for more formal events, too. Additionally, this set includes six different glasses, which is perfect if you’re throwing a party or large gathering.
Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Champagne Flute: $80.47
3. AOOE Crystal Champagne Flutes
Looking for a champagne flute with character? These hand-blown, tulip-style glasses from AOOE are hard to beat. Combining the best parts of a flute and coupe glass, these drinking vessels make for a refreshing change of pace. Their long stems will also keep your bubbly from getting too warm. One thing to note: They’re made of lead-free crystal which gives them a good feel but also means you’ll want to wash them by hand.
AOOE Crystal Champagne Flutes: $28.99
4. Aspen & Birch Champagne Flute Set
If you’re a Champagne or sparkling wine fan but don’t already have any flutes, then Aspen & Birch’s set is perfect for you. Each of the glasses in the set features an unorthodox, but still eye-catching, flat-bottomed bowl. Not only do these glasses have a striking design, they’re also pretty high-quality. Made from lead-free crystal, they can withstand heavy usage and even a run through the dishwasher (though hand-washing is suggested). Finally, they come in a pack of six.
Aspen & Birch Champagne Flute Set
The 8 Best Champagne Glasses of 2021, According to Experts
Best Overall: NUDE Stem Zero Champagne Flute
Drinking sparkling wine during celebratory occasions, according to Colbert, almost always calls for crystal flutes. “Just like a brandy snifter focuses aromas, the shape of the flute allows the wine to be funneled to the back of your palate, creating a longer finish that some may prefer,” she says. Plus, you can fit more flutes on a tray compared to coupes or all-purpose wine glasses, which is ideal for serving larger groups.
Turkish glassware brand NUDE does an excellent job of maximizing the function of a flute. Their Stem Zero collection is known for its incredibly fine, yet extremely durable lead-free crystal (the glasses are handmade using the brand’s “Ion Shielding” technology). This particular silhouette features a slightly tapered mouth, designed to optimize flavor and effervescence. With a 10-ounce capacity, these glasses are dishwasher safe.
Read Next:The Best Champagnes
Non-Breakable Champagne Glasses That Are Something Worth Toasting To
When we’re happy, we drink. When we’re sad, we drink. When we’re bored out of our minds, we drink. In case you haven’t noticed, there’s always something to toast to, but if you’re constantly stocking up on bottles of your favorite bubbly, it’s just common sense that you have to have something to pour it in, right? Sure, wine glasses are classy and solo cups serve their purpose, but if you’re looking to upgrade your glassware situation, look no further than disposable champagne glasses that look bougie without the upkeep.
If you’re jonesing for a drink, you’re either feeling super fancy or trying to get to that point, and champagne glasses can give your booze that swanky boost because, well, they look really pretty, OK? The problem is, champagne flutes are typically made of crystal and are extremely pricey. If you’re toasting with the real thing, you have to be very careful not to clink too hard or accidentally knock it off its coaster because — spoiler — it will shatter. Ergo, the best champagne glasses really are the disposable kind that mimic fine glassware for a fraction of the price. These are our favorite alternatives.
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1. TOSSWARE POP 9oz Plastic Champagne Glasses
Toast with plastic champagne glasses and you’ll never have to worry about who’s clinking their glasses a little too hard. The set comes with 12 neatly stackable glasses designed with features like a patented Pop ‘n Lock for easy serving, crystal-like clarity, and smooth, rounded rims to mimic the real thing, so they’re classy enough to hand out at graduations, showers and birthday celebrations. Plus, the glasses are 100% BPA-Free, recyclable and made from recycled materials: one glass equals up to 12 recycled plastic bottles, so cheers to party supplies that are better for the environment.
2. eparé Champagne Flutes
One of the main reasons why we’re loving these champagne glasses is because they’re so picturesque, but that’s not the only reason. These double-walled champagne flutes are actually just as fancy as they look: The glassware is made of premium quality chemistry-grade borosilicate glass, which, in lamest terms, means the material is thin, but strong. They’re also insulated to keep liquids cooler for longer and keep condensation outside the glass, so you can take your time sipping your favorite wine or cocktail.
3. Oojami Gold Glitter Toasting Flutes
PSA: You don’t have to break the bank to have nice things. Take these toasting flutes, for example: These champagne glasses bring all the glitz and glam you could ever want in a toast. One purchase includes 30 glasses that are not only disposable, but reusable (as long as you’re washing by hand). The bad news is you have to assemble these beauties yourself. The good news is, they’re the perfect DIY project if you want to save money on pricey glassware for special occasions like weddings, engagement parties, holidays, etc.
4. Vivocci Unbreakable Stemless Flutes
Make your party feel a little less stuffy and more modern with this set of unbreakable stemless champagne flutes. They’re shatter-resistant, but at first glance, they do still look like glass. Plus, they’re reusable. After the party is over, you can put them on the top rack of your dishwasher to wash them for the next shindig.
Courtesy of Vivocci.
Champagne flutes amazon
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