When I first became serious about wine, I really noticed the difference that a good glass made to my appreciation of the wine. At that time the choice of wine glass was pretty polarized. Either I spent a great deal of money (more than I could afford) or I had to be content with an industrial, heavy, thick-lipped glass. There was very little to choose from in between.
Today, I can still spend a lot of money on a great glass, but I can also get a really good wine glass for a modest spend. Here are some of my favorites.
The Best Values in Wine Glasses
As a wine professional I usually opt for Riedel. While the Sommelier series is expensive (about between $70 - $100 per glass), it is exquisite to drink from and worth the investment if possible. With 24% lead crystal, these glasses are extremely fine yet strong and truly do bring out the best in a wine.
The Vinum series is also a wonderful glass but at $50 is also very much a special occasion glass. For special dinners I bring these out.
For everyday use Riedel has a 'beginner' series called Ouverture, which is lead-free glass and considerably cheaper. Ouverture is a great way to start out investing in good glassware. Cost is about $45-$50 for a set of four glasses.
I decided to give the stemless O series its own special section, because we are hooked. My husband had been really pestering me to buy some O glasses, in an effort to de-clutter our kitchen cupboards from all the various stemware. While I had tasted wine from them on many occasions, I was still attached to my 'stem'. Finally I relented and bought four for Father's Day.
Now we use them all the time. They nestle nicely in your hand, and really do not impact the temperature of the wine, as opponents suggest. And while they are fine, they are also sturdy. Even if you do knock against one, it might teeter a bit, but so far has never fallen over. O glasses cost about $24 for two.
After Riedel, I really like Spiegelau, Rosenthal and Schott Zweisel. They cost less than the top Riedel ranges and are really fine. Quality wise, I find them equal with differences being down to personal taste.
Now owned by the Riedel company, Spiegelau is a very old and renowned glass manufacturer from Bavaria in Germany. Very fine and durable. Different ranges are made and my favorite is the Grandissimo range. Prices range from $45 to $60 for four glasses depending on the range.
One of the original wine glass producers available in the U.S. Longer stemmed than most - so might be a problem to load in the dishwasher. Moderately expensive they cost about $25-$40 per glass depending on the series.
From Germany, lead free and really do sparkle. After Riedel, these are probably my favorite, especially the Forte Triton glasses. They are much stronger than regular glass, as they contain titanium. A set of six white or red wineglasses costs about $75. Really very good value for the quality.
Another Germany producer. I am not as familiar with these, but have tasted from them recently at a friend's house. They are really quite beautiful and the wines showed beautifully. However, I did find the stem a little light for the price. If I was spending this much I would be buying more Riedel. Prices are $55-$65 per glass.
Value is a relative thing. While some people might consider $20+ reasonable for a wine glass, for many people, especially starting out, this price is expensive. If so, check out Crate & Barrel. They carry an excellent selection of good wine glasses priced at between $6 and $12. I particularly like the Elite series, which sells for just $5.95 per glass; or the Oregon series, which is quite fine, with good stem weight and also costs $5.95 per glass.
Also, if you really want to buy American, check out Ravenscroft, which has come a long way in terms of refining their glassware. Now they make a great range of reasonably priced glasses.
So, whatever your budget or taste there really is a wide selection of fine glassware available across the United States.
This Week's Wine Picks
Last week we had a really enjoyable dinner party, where friends brought over some amazing wines, that deserved (and got), the best glasses in the house. Even though these wines are a bit pricey, I thought I'd mention them, as we all love to splurge occasionally.
• NV Louis Roederer Champagne - Which was paired with some great fried Padrón peppers.
• 2007 Hatzidakis Santorini - 100% Assyrtiko - Refreshing with great minerality.
• 2007 Christian Moreau Chablis - Creamy, chalky and minerally, as a good Chablis should be, with ripe apple fruit.
The two whites were served with Gazpacho de Espárragos con Huevo Pochado (a cold asparagus soup, served with a warm poached egg on top).
• 1999 Alain Graillot La Guiraude Crozes Hermitage - Delicious, with lots of dark, brambly fruit, leather, earthy, roasted meat notes. Ripe, lively tannins, and a smoky peppery finish.
• 2001 Guigal Château d'Ampuis Côte-Rôtie - It was still a little young, but delicious never the less. Dense, black fruit, leather, earthy with lifted floral notes. Firm tannins and very long finish.
These two reds were served with Maiale al Latte (loin of pork cooked in curdled milk), sautéed avocado squash and roasted baby fingerling potatoes.
• 2007 Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling, Clare Valley, Australia - Sweet, with lots of honey, peach, apricot and orange peel aromas and flavors. High acidity beautifully balanced the sweetness.
This we paired with a delicious nectarine tart made by our friend Beth, and crème fraîche.
Until next week, have fun trying the same wine in different glasses.
Mary Gorman-McAdams, DWS, is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant. She hold the Diploma in Wine & Spirits from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), and is a candidate in the Master of Wine Program.
More on wine glasses:
• Great Wineglasses: Tips On Caring for Your Glassware
• Great Wineglasses: Are They Worth the Investment?
(Images: Riedel, Spiegelau, Rosenthal, Schott Zwiesel, Stölzle, Crate & Barrel, Ravenscroft)