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Mark Storer

Professional Wine Expert

Best Crystal Wine Glasses & Best Wine Glassware

Stemware and wine glasses are truly a subjective product. Everyone has their favorite shape or their favorite crystal company, perhaps, but unfortunately, those aren’t the things that should ultimately make your decision. No, the decision on which wine glass to use ultimately comes from your tongue. Yes, your tongue.

Here’s how it works: Your tongue recognizes four basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, and acid. The front of the tongue is where sweet is found and the back of the tongue is where bitter is found and acid and sour rest on the sides of your tongue. Wine falls into these categories, as does all food, really, and so the purpose of a wine glass is to direct the wine to that portion of your tongue, or in some cases away from a portion of your tongue, where certain flavors are found. In addition, since wine is also an aromatic, wine glasses are designed to enhance the aromas of wine by either allowing maximum oxygenation, as in the case of a Bordeaux glass, or directing the aromas specifically up and out, such as a Chardonnay glass. So, a Burgundy glass is likely to direct the wine to the front of your tongue to accentuate its mellow flavors while a Bordeaux glass aims more for the middle of the tongue to allow the complexities of the wine to show through.

While crystal is often the best choice for stemware because of its usual thinness and quality, superior glass can also be just as good for wine consumers. Whatever the case, crystal carries with it the typical warning that most quality stemware is leaded crystal and exposing wine to leaded crystal can and will put lead into your system in very trace amounts. How do you avoid trouble? Don’t let the wine sit for long periods of time. If the glass has had wine in it for more than an hour, it’s probably best to dispose of it. (You weren’t really drinking it anyway, were you?) That said, quality crystal is not only an aesthetically pleasing choice, it does enhance the experience of the wine by allowing it to be its natural self as much as possible.

The price ranges are astounding, the highest being in the multiple thousands for a single glass. There’s no need to spend a small fortune, however, and quality can be had for relatively reasonable prices. Still, quality stemware is as important as proper storage of wine or even the wine itself. Riedel is the king of this category as they have produced quality crystal, leaded crystal, handcrafted and superior glass stemware for many years. Almost every restaurant that serves wine, serves it in Riedel glass and many wineries have even turned to Riedel to supply their tasting glasses. Still, names like Baccarat, Tiffany, and Waterford rank at the top and the choices, styles and aesthetics are as varied as the number of wines you can pour in them.

Rather than pick specific glasses, we’ve chosen stemware makers and styles. Now that you have a sense of pouring Chardonnay in a Chardonnay glass and Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a Bordeaux, in a Bordeaux glass, the next step is to choose a stemware maker, style, and pattern and enjoy.

Choose the best crystal wine classes to show off your fine wine collection. The best wine glassware features Tiffany, Baccarat, Waterford, Swarovski, Riedel and others at the best price.

Best Stemware and Wine Glasses by Mark Storer

The Best You Can Get

  • Baccarat Crystal Stemware

    Mark says: The history of Baccarat is enough to make even the toughest historian smile. The makers of the crystal were commissioned by the French King Louis XVI in 1764 to make stemware and that’s what they did, along with a lot of other things. Baccarat has a world-renowned name and with reason. These are simply the Best of the Best.

  • Tiffany Crystal Stemware

    Mark says: The name is simply synonymous with graceful dining. Heck, they even have their own movie and then a popular song written about having breakfast there. All joking aside, the simple fact is that Tiffany handcrafted and leaded crystal glasses are among the best there are. The only thing limiting the look and style of each glass is your imagination. Certainly, as with all of the Best of the Best, you can get a Tiffany crystal glass for every wine occasion. Besides, Tiffany is an American company and buying their stemware as opposed to some of the others, shows that we Americans do have a strong sense of style, even enough to match our European friends.

  • Waterford Crystal Stemware

    Mark says: As you’ve read from me before, the little Irish company that could isn’t so little, really. Waterford Crystal is prized the world over for its elegant design and its extraordinary beauty using only the best crystal, of course. The price ranges are vast and that is obviously because of the various designs of glasses. Waterford, though, are ornate glasses and there are not a lot of selections of clear, simple designs. Once again, the best set of wine glasses to have is one set for white wines, one set for medium red wines, and one set for heavier red wines.

  • Swarovski Crystal Stemware

    Mark says: Next to Baccarat and Waterford, the Swarovski Company has a true European pedigree and therefore a pretty price tag. Still, the Swarovski Company of Austria has made its mark in the wine glass world and the stemware is now easier to obtain because of the Internet which made it more popular and that forced more higher end department stores to start carrying it again. The glasses have the old world ornate look, though and so, like its Irish cousins at Waterford, it doesn’t have the simple New World elegance that Riedel or Tiffany have.

  • Riedel Crystal Stemware

    Mark says: The Riedel Sommeliers Crystal collection is one of the best money can buy. Setting the standard for wine stemware, Riedel has become synonymous with fine wine and wine tasting. Designed by Master Sommeliers, this set of crystal was designed to do exactly the jobs described above. These handcrafted glasses are in serious demand by both restaurateurs and sommeliers alike. Simple, elegant design, weighted and balanced for the hand, and available in dozens of different designs and sizes, the Riedel Crystal is the selection for the serious wine aficionado.

You will be happy with any of these

  • Schott Zweisel Enoteca Wine Stemware

    Mark says: Schott Zweisel is a German company that has lovingly produced some of the most value conscious stemware in the wine industry. These are lead-free crystal glasses that are handcrafted and blown and come in every necessary shape for every kind of wine. These are a real value and will enhance both your wine and your table.

  • Riedel Crystal Vinum Stemware

    Mark says: These are beautiful glasses and Riedel made them. They are crystal and they are balanced and weighted, but they’re not handcrafted and that allows the price to come down. Ultimately, they serve the same purpose as their big brothers and sisters and as a sommelier; I can honestly say I’m not sure you’d be able to tell a huge difference between the handcrafted crystal and these.

  • Riedel Vinum Red and White Wine Glass Collection

    Mark says: Perhaps the most popular set of wine glasses on the market, the Riedel Vinum collection is a great way to start. It comes with four Chardonnay glasses and four Bordeaux glasses as well. True, you don’t have the nuance of say, a Burgundy set of glasses but that’s no real matter. The Burgundy you pour will do nicely in the Bordeaux glasses and the complete set will allow you to enjoy wine the way you want.

  • Lolita Wine Glass Collection

    Mark says: OK, I couldn’t resist. These are simply unique hand-painted wine glasses that even contain a “wine-cooler” recipe on the bottom. You don’t have to make that, of course, you can simply use them to pour wine in and drink it. Now, these aren’t the glasses you want to use to look at the wine’s color or the nuances of its texture. No, these are the glasses to get out when you’re having a fun party and the wine is a part of that with your family and friends. They’re not all that expensive, and they are quality, unique pieces of art.

  • Spiegelau VinoVino Wine Glass Collection

    Mark says: Speigelau has a wide range of stemware from crystal to glass. Their crystal glasses are quite elegant and lovely, but they didn’t quite make the cut in terms of their competitors at that level. Still, Speigelau understands the stemware nuances and these glasses are again a fine and less expensive way to enjoy wine.

Related Articles

The best crystal wine glasses feature the right glasses for the Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon in your wine cellar. We suggest the best glasses for wine that are made of fine crystal and just the right size. Our best wine glassware includes Baccarat, Tiffany, Waterford, Swarovski, Riedel and others at the best price.