Great Wineglasses: Are They Worth the Investment?

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Are good wineglasses worth the money? Does a good wineglass enhance the wine? Should you use different glassware for red, white and sparkling wines? Are all good wineglasses expensive?

In my opinion, the wineglass matters. However, as with wine itself, there are many opinions about wineglasses, and, as expected, a great deal of snobbery. From my experience tasting wine professionally for many years, here are a few of my thoughts on what really matters in a wineglass.

When selecting wineglasses, certain things about each variety of glass do make a difference in the wine-drinking experience. Here’s a look at some of the factors in wineglasses, and how much I think each actually can affect experience.

The size and shape of the bowl – The larger the bowl the better the wine’s aromas can circulate and manifest themselves. Red wineglasses are bigger, since red wines need more time and air to open up. Beyond this, anything regarding the bowl shape and size is a personal consideration.

The stem length – The stem of the glass allows us to hold the glass without having our hand on the actual bowl and ‘interfering’ with the wine’s temperature. No more, no less. Stem length is a personal as well as practical consideration. Longer stems look elegant, but break more easily and are more difficult to load in a dishwasher and to store. Shorter stems are more practical, especially for everyday use.

Stemless – Over the past few years, stemless wine glasses have become increasingly popular. Rightly so, as they are practical, especially for everyday and casual wine-drinking occasions. I am a total convert, but more about that in next week’s post

Fine lead crystal or regular glass – The finer the crystal the thinner the glass. This does make a difference and enhance the wine drinking experience. However, the finer the crystal the more expensive the glass. Thankfully, today there are many non-lead crystal wine glasses that are also thin.

Plain, colored or etched – In general plain, unadorned glasses are better for serious tasting, as they allow you to examine all the visual aspects of the wine such as the color — its intensity as well as viscosity. However, most wine drinking situations are not ‘serious tastings’ so go for whatever you prefer.

Champagne/sparkling wine flutes – The ‘flute’ shaped glass is the best for Champagne and sparkling wines as it allows the wine to manifest the bubbles with greatest intensity and duration. However, I also like to use a regular white wineglass, which has a wider bowl and mouth, as it allows me to better experience the aromas of the sparkling wine and Champagne.

If you enjoy wine, investing in good glassware is worth it. However, as important is how you care for your wineglasses. Over the next two weeks I will be posting on my favorite wineglasses for different occasions and different budgets, as well as important tips on best care for your wineglasses.

Meanwhile, two great summer wines that I enjoyed this week were:

2008 Arregi Getariako Txakolina, DO Txakoli $15.99 – Don’t be put off by the name. Txakoli (pronounced “tch-ack-oli’ is from the Basque region of Northern Spain near San Sebastian. Light bodied (only 11.5% alcohol), crisp acidity and full of mouth-watering juicy fruit. For me this works best with shellfish or grilled summer vegetables.

2008 Burgáns Albariño, DO Rías Baixas $15.99 – From Galicia in Northwestern Spain, I always keep a few bottles of this wine on hand, as it is so versatile. Brimming with ripe stone fruit and hints of tropical fruit. Very refreshing with good length. I pair this with all sorts of dishes. I love it with falafel dishes or spicy wok-fried shrimp.

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.

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