Choose the best wine glasses for your home can add to your wine experience. In my experience, choosing the wine itself for your situation is 80% of the experience. The remaining 20% is the serving experience which includes the glass. Whether you’re looking to replace a broken wine glass (it happens to me occasionally during cleaning) or deepen your appreciation of wine, this post will get you started.
Why A Great Wine Glass Is Like Sitting In The Front Row
Specialized wine glasses are like seats at the theatre. For years, I’ve enjoyed seeing plays at the Stratford Festival. When possible, I like to get close to the stage to see all the details of the actors, costumes and sets. By sitting close to the action, I experience the play more deeply and pay for the privilege accordingly. Buying and using a specialized, high end wine glass is like sitting in the front row. It adds to the experience.
That said, you can still enjoy a play from the back of the theatre. Likewise, you can still enjoy wine with a generic wine glass. However, you might miss out on some of the details and nuances of the experience.
Starting Your Wine Glass Selection: Beginner and Deluxe Options
For the occasional wine drinker, it is best to keep it simple. In those cases, start with these types. For each type, you will probably want to buy two or three of each one so that you can share your wine with friends and family. That said, pouring wine into a less than ideal wine glass will not destroy the glass.
1) The Best Champagne Wine Glasses (sparkling wine glass)
I like to enjoy a sparkling wine glass in a wine flute. This type of wine glass is long and narrow. It helps to contain the mouse (i.e. “wine foam”). That’s the main practical benefit. Aside from that, using dedicated glasses for sparkling wine adds to the experience. By using a special glass for this kind of wine, it sweetens the experience all the more.
To keep life simple, there are two ways to approach choosing champagne glasses: an affordable beginner option or a deluxe option.
- Beginner Option: A set of “Classic Champagne Flutes” on Amazon will cost around $30 for a set of 20. That means about $2.50 per glass. At that price, keep your expectations modest even though the Amazon.com reviews are good.
- Deluxe Option. The sky is the limit here! Buying a crystal glass from Riedel is a great deluxe choice, especially for a gift. On Wine.com, you can get a set of 2 Riedel champagne glasses from $32 for a set of two stemless champagne glasses at the entry level. At the high end, you can get a set of two Riedel performance champagne glasses for $97.
2) The Best White Wine Glasses
Traditionally, a white wine glass has a smaller bowl and a longer stem than the red wine glass. That matters because it limits the amount of air to wine contact. Less air contact is needed because there is less need to “open up” the white wine with air in most cases. Wine white glasses also have a longer stem.
That long stem helps to keep your white wine at the right temperature. Typically, white wine have a relatively low ideal serving temperature (7-13 degrees Celsius or 44-55 Fahrenheit), which is lower than the typical room temperature in North America (22-22 Celsius, 68-72 Fahrenheit). With a longer stem, the amount of body heat transferred directly to the wine is limited.
- Beginner White Wine Glass Options. Let’s go back to Amazon to see the options. As of April 2021, Amazon’s choice for a white wine glass is the JoyJolt Layla White Wine Glasses (set of 4). The list price is $49.95, but you may be able to find them on sale.
- Deluxe Option: Heading over to Wine.com, we have a variety of great premium white wine glasses to check out. You can get a set of four Spiegelau White Wine Glass made from non-leaded crystal for $49.99. Riedel has you covered as well with their Riedel Ouverture White Wine Glasses (a set of two will set you back $33 on Wine.com).
3) The Best Red Wine Glasses
You might have seen specialized red wine glasses at certain restaurants that care about the wine experience. These wine glasses are typically a bit larger at the top and they have a longer stem.
True red wine enthusiasts will point out that there is no such thing as a single red wine glass. Technically, there are three sub-types of red wine glasses for different types of wine: Bordeaux glasses, Burgundy glasses and small red wine glasses. I’ve had more Bordeaux wine than Burgundy, so let’s focus on the Bordeaux wine glass.
Tip: If you’re confused about the difference between Bordeaux and Burgundy, check out my guide to French Wine Regions.
- Beginner Option: From my initial Amazon research, there are two popular options to consider here depending on whether you like stemless or traditional glass. Amazon’s choice for a traditional Bordeaux wine glass is the Hand Blown Italian Style Crystal Bordeaux Wine Glasses from JBHO (available in a set of 2 for $16.99 or 4 glasses for $27.19). If you prefer the feel of a stemless wine glasses, take a look at the JoyJolt Spirits Stemless Wine Glasses ($14.40).
- Deluxe Option: On Wine.com, you have a few choices for red wine glasses. Take a look at the Riedel Ouverture Red Wine Glasses (Set of 2) which sell for $32.97. These crystal glasses are also dishwasher safe, but I would suggest handwashing.
Choosing The Right Wine Glasses For You
This is ultimately a personal decision. If you rarely drink sparkling wines, then forget about buying those glasses. If you are planning ahead for a larger gathering – COVID will eventually end! – then I suggest going with a budget option in most cases. Remember choosing the right wine glass enhances a wine, but don’t expect a high end wine glass to transform a weak wine into an amazing wine.