A buyer’s guide to elegant glassware
Not all wine glasses are created equal. The finest Italian wine glasses that break the bank aren’t necessary for maximizing the taste of your wines. As long as your glasses are the appropriate shape, made of thin clear glass, and are aesthetically pleasing, even cheap wine glasses will do just fine. If you arm yourself with a little information, you’ll know just how to choose the right glasses for any occasion.
There are certain characteristics which lend themselves to optimizing the enjoyment of specific types of wine. To better understand the different wine glasses and the drinks to which they are best suited, here is a rule of thumb guide:
- Bordeaux glasses are typically tulip-shaped, narrower at the top than the bottom. This shape permits the drinker to swirl the wine in order to properly taste it, while the smaller opening condenses the aroma of the wine for maximum enjoyment. These are sometimes called all purpose or red wine glasses.
- For white wines, the tulip shape is appropriate but in a smaller size. White wine does not need as much air as red, and the glass shape helps keep it cool. If multiple types of wine are being served, the varied size and shape of the non-oaked glass helps distinguish this glass form the others.
- Chardonnays, pinots, burgundies and several other specialty wines are often served in a larger wine glass. These are sometimes called “big” wines, and are suited to being more exposed to air.
- Most people are familiar with the delicate, attractive champagne flute. The tall, thin shape allows the champagne to maintain its bubbles for as long as possible and the pretty look of the glass is appealing for special occasions.
When deciding how many wine glasses to buy, keep in mind the type of entertaining you will be doing. What kind of wine do you typically serve? Do you normally have large gatherings in your home at the holidays? Will you serve another type of wine with dessert? Be sure to purchase extras of each kind of glass. This is a good idea because if any glasses are lost or broken, you’ll want to be able to easily replace it, especially if the manufacturer no longer sells the style of wine glass that you own. Otherwise you would have to purchase a completely new set. It's also a good idea to think about your overall kitchen design and home decor when purchasing wine glasses, as they may look out of place if they are a stark contrast to your other design elements.
Wine Glass Manufacturing
Whichever wine glasses you choose, it’s best that they are thin and made of clear glass so as to allow the drinker to view the contents. The finest wine glasses in the world have traditionally been produced using lead crystal. However, as concerns surrounding the ingestion of lead have risen in recent years, wine glass manufacturers have developed new technology for producing top-quality crystal wine glasses without the use of lead. If this is something you’re worried about, watch for labels specifying that the crystal is lead-free.