Drinking wine is more than just taking a sip and enjoying a drink. Drinking wine is an entire experience and an experience requires several factors to become fully immersive and pleasurable.
When it comes to wine, it’s not just the wine itself that needs to be well thought of. Drinking wine includes considering the wine glasses as well.
While most people may think that the vessel for which to drink wine doesn’t really matter, it actually does. Use the wrong glass and a red wine’s tannins won’t be as rich as they should be; use a Champagne flute for white wine and the crispness and fresh flavors won’t be enjoyed.
Now if you think that considering wine glass as part of your wine drinking journey is too complex, it’s actually quite simple. You just need to know a few basics of choosing the best wine glass for a specific type of drink and you’ll be blown away by how different the experience of wine drinking actually is.
So let’s get started with this guide on the best wine glasses of 2021. But before we do that, there are several things you need to know about wine glasses, such as the most common wine glasses around, as well as how to choose the best wine glass for your needs.
Anatomy of a Wine Glass
To understand wine glasses, you need to know the basic parts of typical glassware. There are 4 major parts of a wine glass, and these are the base, the stem, the bowl, and the rim. Let’s discuss each one:
1. The Base
The Base provides stability to the glass. It must be wide enough to make the glass stand up and must be made thicker than the rest of the glass.
2. The Stem
The stem elongates the glass and gives the drinker something to hold on to without transferring his or her body temperature into the glass. It also prevents fingertip marks on the glass.
Some stems are longer than others, while some glasses don’t have a stem at all. These are called stemless glasses, which we will be talking about later in the article.
3. The Bowl
The bowl is arguably the most important part of a wine glass. It holds the wine and must have enough room for swirling. When it comes to full-bodied wines, the bowl must be wide enough for comfortable swirling, as red wines need room to breathe for aeration, releasing the aroma while also softening its harsh and rich tannins.
4. The Rim
The rim is the topmost part of a wine glass. It must be thin enough to provide a smooth transition from a wine glass to the mouth. If the rim of a wine glass is thick and rounder in shape, it means it is cheaply and poorly made.
The rim must also be slightly tapered to prevent spillage and spillage as you swirl the wine in the bowl. The tapered rim also traps the concentration of aromas and flavors in the glass, rather than releasing it into the air. Tapered rims make the wine drinking experience much more enjoyable than glasses with a flat and wide opening.
These 4 basic parts of a wine glass each have different functions when it comes to wine drinking and they’re not just made for aesthetic purposes.
As we continue to discuss this guide and the best wine glasses of 2021, we will frequently talk about the different details and parts of wine glasses to determine how and why the glasses we feature are the best in the market.
What Makes a Good Wine Glass?
If you’re one of those people who pour wine on almost any kind of glassware, such as a regular drinking water glass or a beer mug, then you’re in for a surprise.
The architecture and material of glassware actually affect the flavor and aroma of all kinds of wine – which means you probably haven’t enjoyed the optimal wine experience if you haven’t been using the proper wine glass for the kind of wine you’ve been drinking.
So without further ado, here are the very factors that make a great wine glass.
1. Crystal Material
Crystal is the most ideal material for a wine glass. It’s not just beautiful, but it’s actually incredibly durable despite its relatively thin layer. Crystal wine glasses are lightweight and maximize the drinking experience. This is because crystal contains trace minerals such as zinc and magnesium that promote the flavors of the chemical components found in wine.
However, crystal wine glasses are delicate and require careful washing and storing. The material is quite durable but it will still crack at the slightest strike, so you still need to be careful. They’re not the best wine glass to use for parties especially when the crowd is known for getting rowdy. In cases of large gatherings, the glass may be the more ideal material for wine glasses.
Glass is less expensive and less durable. If your party guests accidentally break them, you don’t really need to worry because they’re not as pricey as crystal wine glasses.
When it comes to cleaning, glass is also easier to wash as they are dishwasher-safe. Simply throw them in the dishwasher, store them in a cabinet, and you’re good to go.
Crystal wine glasses, on the other hand, are porous, which means they corrode easily when washed in a dishwasher. They need to be hand washed and stored upright, where the rim doesn’t touch any surface.
Glass materials are non-porous, which means they won’t corrode over time and are easier to clean. They are still delicate, though, and will crack at the slightest stroke of force.
2. Stemmed Wine Glasses
You’ve probably seen those stemless wine glasses that are chic and pretty, but did you know that stemless glasses aren’t ideal for drinking wine?
This is because when you hold the stemless glass, your body transfers heat into the glass, and therefore, the heat affects the contents of the glass, which directly affects the composition of the wine.
Heat is one of wine’s worst enemies and when you hold a stemless glass as you drink, it can affect the aroma and flavor. Plus, no one wants a glass of warm wine.
A stemmed wine glass provides better temperature consistency and also prevents the appearance of unsightly fingerprints on the glass.
However, if you’re hosting a large gathering, stemless wine glasses will prevent the likelihood of glass breaking as they’re not that easy to topple over.
3. Large Bowl and Wide Opening for Red Wine
For red wine, the best wine glass should have a wide bowl and a wide opening. This is because a wide bowl makes it possible to swirl the wine inside the glass without spilling, and the large opening allows for more oxygen to come in, providing more aeration to your red wine, bringing out the succulent aroma and flavors of its tannins.
4. Smaller Bowl and Opening for White Wine
While the best glass for red wine is wider, the bowl for white wine is more U-shaped and has an upright structure as compared to a red wine glass.
White wine glasses also feature a longer stem. These features help to preserve and promote the flavors and aroma of white wine, as well as preserve the cool temperature needed to fully enjoy the drink.
5. Versatile Shape for Universal Wine Glass
Universal wines are designed with a more versatile shape that makes them ideal no matter what kind of wine you drink. They mostly have a mid-sized bowl and a rim that is more tapered, allowing the wine to shine.
Although most wine connoisseurs do not prefer to use a universal wine glass, they’re great for anyone who doesn’t really have a particular liking to one specific varietal and is looking into enjoying different kinds of wine.
The factors to a good wine glass include the shape, the size, the stem, the rim, and the bowl of the wine glass. Material of the glassware also comes into play when it comes to variety and flavor, and if you want to be more specific with the glass that you choose, you can use this guide to determine which wine glass to purchase and which type goes with what varietal.
A Guide to the Most Common Wine Glass Shapes
Wine glasses may look the same from afar, but there’s actually more than meets the eye. The material, shape, and size of wine glasses all serve a purpose, and that’s why there are different shapes of wine glasses for every kind of wine.
Here are the 4 most common wine glass shapes:
1. Champagne Flute
The Champagne Flute is obviously used for Champagne and other bubblies. It has a tall and narrow shape with a medium to a long stem. They’re shaped to cause bubbles to rise to the top, capturing the aroma and flavors of sparkling wine.
The Champagne Flute is not ideal for still wine because its slender shape prevents proper oxidation, which can ruin the taste of red and white wine.
2. White Wine Glass
These are shaped like tulip flowers that go straight up on the sides before slightly tapering at the top. These are smaller than red wine glasses but still, offer enough space in the bowl for swirling. The narrow shape at the top concentrates the aromas of the wine and traps them slightly, offering delectable aromas before you take a sip.
3. Burgundy Glasses
Burgundy glasses are designed for red wine and feature a wide bowl. They’re shaped like an inverted mushroom, where the bowl is wide and the opening tapers slightly to prevent spillage. The wide bowl is meant for easy swirling, which jostles the aldehydes and esters in red wine, creating a juicy aroma inside the glass. These are great for Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, and Gamay wine.
4. Bordeaux Glasses
These are giant versions of the tulip-shaped glasses for white wine but they taper less at the rim. They have straighter sides rather than curving, and the large bowl allows for comfortable swirling for softening harsh tannins in red wine.
These 4 shapes are basically the most common shapes of wine but variations have been created over the years, making wine glass shapes and sizes varied in design and even in materials.
7 of the Best Wine Glass in 2021
There are actually hundreds if not, thousands of wine glass manufacturers around the world. Some have been around since the 1800s while others are fairly new to the game. But one thing’s for sure, the artisans behind these amazing wine glass makers have produced the most amazing products that not only look good on your hands but genuinely bring out the nuances and complexities of a good bottle of wine.
We’ve narrowed down our list to 7 of the best brands in the world, and categorized them according to what they have to offer.
Here is our list of the best wine glass brands in 2021:
1. Best Overall: Zalto
Zalto is hands down, the best wine glass brand in the world, according to wine connoisseurs and professionals. The brand is widely considered as the gold standard in glassware and they’re known to genuinely make wine taste better. Normally, most people would think a glass is merely a glass, but with Zalto, it’s a science and an art.
Their glasses are all mouth-blown, which means each glass is handmade by artisans. They’re incredibly light, made of unleaded crystal, and shaped like an art piece rather than a commercially manufactured piece of glassware.
What makes their glasses incredible is they enhance the wine’s nuances and subtleties, providing new or stronger flavors and aromas to the concoction, which other glassware can’t do.
All of their glasses are tapered on the rim to prevent spillage, and the lightweight construction makes them light as a feather.
The Zalto Denk’Art Burgundy Wine Glass is one of their most impressive glassware, which is designed for a red wine that features alcohol levels above 13%, such as Merlot and Bordeaux.
2. Best for White Wine: Schott Zwiesel Sensa White Wine Glass
Schott Zwiesel is a German glassware brand known for its innovative material for wine glasses. They use Tritan, which is a patented titanium technology that’s break-free, chip-free, and scratch-resistant. It’s the ultimate wine glass when it comes to durability, and best of all, the crystal-clean brilliance doesn’t dull even after several washes in the dishwasher.
The Sensa white wine glass is designed for lighter-bodied wines such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chenin Blanc but they’re recommended for all kinds of white wine.
This 12-ounce glass is crystal clear, featuring a long stem and narrow shape that’s perfect for preserving the crispness and freshness of white wine, as well as its cool temperature.
3. Best for Red Wine: Open Kitchen Angle Red Wine Glasses by Williams Sonoma
This set of 4 wine glasses by Williams Sonoma is made of sparkling lead-free crystal. It’s designed under the Open Kitchen exclusive collection of the band and specifically structured for enhancing the flavors of red wine.
It’s both functional and aesthetically unique, offering an angular shape rather than having soft curves on the sides, offering a beautiful structural shape.
The glass is also lead-free, dishwasher-safe and the 22-ounce capacity is also highly recommended for universal use, which means it’s also great for most varietals.
Though this brand does not specifically focus on glassware, as it’s an all-around homeware American brand based in San Francisco, wine connoisseurs have discovered these glasses to be incredibly efficient in bringing out the true complexities of red wine despite being budget-friendly glassware.
4. Best Universal: Gabriel Gras Gold Edition Mouth-Blown Crystal Wineglass
This may be quite a splurge but this Austrian glassware brand promises to bring out the most subtle of flavors of any varietal, from Champagne to Burgundy. The broad base and the narrow opening are uniquely structured to provide the most versatile architecture in stemware, making it the only wine glass you will ever need for any special occasion.
This product comes in a box of 6 and despite being made of crystal that’s mouth-blown, the glasses are actually dishwasher-safe.
Dubbed as a “lighter than air” wine glass, it’s designed to be a “one for all” glassware for all varietals. The brand is a collaboration between Siegfried Seidl, who is an Austrian wine entrepreneur, and Rene Gabriel, who is a wine critic. Their goal was to create a glass of unrivaled quality yet reachable when it comes to price.
5. Best Value: Libbey Vineyard Reserve Wine Glasses
This budget-friendly brand offers this box of 12 wine glasses, with 6 of them designed for white wine, and the other 6 for red wine. It’s made with a classic curved silhouette that’s perfect for any occasion, from everyday patio drinking to a dinner party with family and friends.
The 6 Chardonnay glasses help bring the subtle and light flavors of white wine to life, while the 6 Merlot/Bordeaux glasses enhance the bold flavors of red wine. Perfect for any holiday party hosting, get to serve two different kinds of wine for a special dinner party, a birthday, engagement dinner, or for everyday nightcaps.
Made with lustrous glass, they’re dishwasher-safe, making them easy to wash, and offered at a great price without compromising on quality.
6. Best Everyday: Riedel Magnum Ouverture Red Wine Glass
Nothing too fancy, the Riedel Magnum Ouverture Red Wine Glass is the best everyday wine glass. It may be designed for red wine but its slender bowl and thin rim can showcase a wide range of varietals, from tannic reds to fizzy beers, bright whites, and even sparkling wine.
The short stem is strong enough to offer balance when swirling, making it a great everyday wine that’s perfect for a nightcap or to use with casual dining.
The glass may be machine-made but its shape does help to release the aromas of all kinds of wine, emphasizing the flavors of fruits, and balancing the tannins of red wine.
7. Best Stemless: Viski Raye Cactus Crystal Stemless
While a stemless wine glass isn’t the most ideal glassware to enjoy a good bottle of wine, it does come in handy for get-togethers and parties where you might expect a few glass accidents here and there.
The Viski Cactus Crystal Stemless glasses are chic and aesthetically pleasing. They’re designed with curves and lines that resemble a Peyote cactus, and the super-thin crystal glass comfortably accommodates 20 ounces of wine.
Other honorable mentions include the Baccarat Grand Bordeaux Glass which are elegant and lead crystal red wine glasses, and the Lehmann Jamesse Prestige Champagne Flute, perfect for a bottle of bubbly.
When it comes to stylish and beautiful glassware, the Camille Long stem offers an elongated and ultra-thin stem, while the Joplin White Wine Glass offers a stylish design that’s easy on the pocket but perfect for making a great impression on dinner guests.
How to Store Wine Glasses
The best way to store wine glasses is upright. The rim is the thinnest part of the glass and they are easily chipped, which means you should never store them facing down. They’re best stored inside a cabinet where they are not exposed to the elements, such as dust, dirt, heat, and direct light.
You can also use a hanging rack but they may pose a risk for falling and breakage.
Before you store them, a good hand wash with warm water and unscented soap is ideal once you get them out of the box. Focus on the rim and outside of the body of the glass, and wipe down with a lint-free cloth such as a microfiber towel to dry.
To enjoy the full wine drinking experience, the use of proper wine glasses for specific kinds of varietals is key to genuinely experiencing their rich aromas and flavors.
Some wine glasses may look alike, but knowing the details of wine glasses will help you choose the appropriate glassware to enjoy the best taste and nuances of a certain kind of wine.
Whether you’re looking to splurge or purchase wine glasses on a budget, the 7 best wine glasses of 2021 on our list meet different needs for your collection. Choose one, two, or better yet, get all of the glass on our list for the ultimate wine glass collection.