Wine Basics | What sort of wine glasses should you buy?

Wine Basics

What sort of wine glasses should you buy?

Much play has been made over the last few years of having different shaped glasses for different wines but for those of us with limited storage space (and a limited budget) that’s simply not practical. So what are the best type of glasses to buy and what should you expect to pay for them?

The conventional wisdom is that glasses should be clear (so you can appreciate the colour of the wine), tapered towards the rim (so you can swirl it safely) and with a long stem so you can hold the glass easily without your hand warming up the contents. They should also have a fine rim so you’re not conscious of the edge of the glass as you drink (which can be the case with cheaper wine glasses).

The problem is that many glass manufacturers have taken this to extremes creating beautiful glasses but ones that are difficult to fit in a dishwasher and tragically easy to break if you wash them by hand or knock them over.

So so far as type of glasses is concerned I would go for practicality over style. A modestly priced glass that is easy to replace. This Vino wine glass from John Lewis at £20 a set of 4 would be a good all-rounder. Take advantage of promotions too - at the time of writing there's between 20% and 30% off at Habitat. I've even bought decent wine glasses at Wilko!

How many types of wine glass should you buy?

It depends how keen you are on wine and what type you enjoy most. If you’re starting from scratch setting up home or planning a wedding list I’d probably go for two - a slightly smaller glass for crisp dry wines like sauvignon blanc, aromatic white wines such as riesling and rosés and a larger glass for oak-aged chardonnays and red wines. (The point about having a smaller glass is that you have less wine in your glass and that retains the temperature of cold wines better. Remember glasses should only be poured half full not filled to the brim)

If you’re a lover of sweet or fortified wines like sherry you might want a set of smaller glasses too - the classic sherry ‘copita’ would probably be the most flexible choice.

Do you need a separate glass for champagne?

Ah, that’s the big question. Until recently the answer has been a firm yes - a tall flute being held to preserve the fizz better than the shallow coupe that was popular at the beginning of the last century. But now many experts reckon that a more generous bowl expresses the flavour of champagne better. So you could use your regular white wine glasses.

A new type of glass you might want to consider are ones like SON.hyx and Sparkx that claim to be dishwasher proof. You’d have to use them over a period of time to verify that but they might be worth a try if you don't want to wash your glasses by hand (as, let's be honest, most of us don't)

When it's worth splashing out

If you’re keen on a particular style of wine - say burgundy - or are buying a gift for someone who is - it might be worth buying a couple of glasses for when you’re enjoying a bottle on your own or with a partner or friend. Riedel, Schott Zweisel, Spiegelau and Zalto are well-known names to look out for. I also like Richard Brendon's beautiful new one-size-fits-all wine glass, designed in collaboration with wine writer Jancis Robinson. Again sales are a good opportunity to buy more expensive wine glasses (or stemware as it’s called in the US).

If you found this post helpful and would like to support the website and keep it free for everyone to use it would be great if you could make a donation towards its running costs.

And for more hot tips and recommendations check out my Substack Eat This, Drink That, Live Well.

Comments: 6

tim on March 7 2024 at 13:18

The problem with Reidel et al is they are VERY fragile & easily broken, you are conned into believing that you need a different glass for each wine. So you end up with a shelf of odd ends (3 of this, 5 of that etc) which never get used.

I am not a wine enthusiast and have never written a blog.

Totally agree regarding Nisbets: inexpensive, reasonably durable, and never discontinued so you always have enough matching glasses.

mr wong on November 17 2018 at 20:55

Duralex Picardie

Paul on March 13 2018 at 11:08 does some good value packs of top quality glasses, including stemless which are more difficult to knock over and fit more easily in the dishwasher.

Renee on January 28 2018 at 18:55

I am a wine enthusiast and recently wrote a blog on this very topic we have similar thoughts. Thanks for the article I will continue to follow you.

Stokey Sue on January 28 2018 at 18:19

I find catering suppliers such as Nisbets a good source of inexpensive, durable, glasses. You can usually buy in boxes of six

Steve on October 19 2017 at 16:02

This article was just what I was after but unfortunately the Ben de Lisi glasses from Debenhams have been discontinued. Could you suggest an alternative? I'd like to get something fairly good but the John Lewis glasses may be a bit too pricey for my other half to tolerate!

Recent posts …

About FionaAbout FionaEvents and appearancesEvents and appearancesWork with meWork with me