Alternative Wine Glasses

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Alternative Wine Glasses

The best varietal-specific glasses (those designed for specific types of wine) come from the Riedel Veritas collection. Not only is this stemware more elegant than our main pick, but the cabernet and chardonnay glasses we tested proved to be the best for showcasing wine aroma. This collection includes nine varietal-specific glasses for wine (as well as glasses for beer, spirits, and cocktails). The Veritas glasses are ideal for those passionate about the complexities of the wine they’re drinking and want to showcase their fine wines in superior glassware. You probably don’t want to set these glasses out for rowdy drinkers, since they’re made from thinner, finer, and more delicate non-leaded crystal. The Veritas glasses are available in many styles for wine, but if you’re not sure where to start, we recommend beginning with the Riedel Veritas Cabernet/Merlot Glass for red wine and the Riedel Veritas Viognier/Chardonnay Glass for white wine.
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Alternative Wine Glasses

Aside from all-purpose wine glasses, we looked at glasses specifically designed for both reds and whites. Some glassware manufacturers, most notably Riedel, take the concept one step further and have glasses specially designed for many varietals such as Chardonnay and Riesling. The idea behind separate glasses is that they can enhance or flatten out various characteristics of the wine you’re drinking. For those who enjoy entertaining, having red and white wine glasses is also a nice hospitality detail that sets a tone of formality for special occasions. However, Asimov told us, “I don’t really put stock in the notion that you need different glasses for different types of wine. I think that’s an affectation and promoted heavily by self-interested wine glass manufacturers. … But it’s also a psychological thing, and if you believe it, then it’s fine.” Keep in mind, unless you have the space, or enjoy the look of formal place settings, having multiple glasses for every type of wine is impractical for most people.
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Alternative Wine Glasses

Trying to keep your body heat from the wine is only necessary for chilled wines (whites, for the most part). For those served at room temperature (most reds), you actually want your body heat to warm the wine. I’ve been to plenty of places that use ‘stemless wine glasses’ (about the size of a red wine glass, maybe a little larger, but no stem underneath) for reds. I’ve also been to places that just use mason jars. For whites, if you’re at a dinner table, it’s not going to matter as much, as you can put your glass down. The problem comes when you’re standing around with your glass. You can get around the problems by making sure that the wine is well chilled, and don’t serve as much per glass (so they don’t hold it so long that it warms up). Handled glasses can help, but I wouldn’t go for a large beer mug like Cos recommended — I’d use a smaller mug for coffee or tea. One exception would be your bubbly wines. You want something tall and narrow for those. None of these have the characteristic wine glass shape, with the smaller opening at the top, which is going to help concentrate the aromas, so if you have any glasses that are shaped like that, consider using those. And you don’t want to fill any glass of wine more than half full, so that you have space for the vapors to collect.
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Alternative Wine Glasses

We recommend the Riedel Veritas Cabernet/Merlot Glass and the Riedel Veritas Viognier/Chardonnay Glass for those who prefer separate glasses for red and white wine. Both of our testers chose the Riedel Veritas glasses as their top pick for varietal-specific glasses during our blind taste tests. The ultra-thin rim on the Veritas glasses makes them a pleasure to drink from, and the stems are thinner and longer than that of our top pick, making these glasses better candidates for an elegant table setting. The Veritas series is made of non-leaded crystal, so the glasses are thinner and more effectively refract light than the soda-lime glasses we tested.
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Alternative Wine Glasses

In general, ask any wine professional, and they’ll tell you the number one name in stemware is Riedel. Tim Fish, senior editor at Wine Spectator, confirmed Riedel’s status as a “highly regarded company” in this roundup of wine glasses appropriate for a first-time buyer. The Kitchn cites Riedel as one of its “firm favorite brands” with products that are “highly respected and have stood the test of time.” Good Housekeeping is a fan too, as evidenced in the subtly titled article “Riedel Wine Glasses – The Best Wine Glasses.” Also, according to the Riedel website, the Riedel Vinum series dates back to 1986, so these glasses have stood the test of time and will be easily replaceable.
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Alternative Wine Glasses

The length of the stem and the balance of the piece should make a glass less prone to toppling over on the table or in your hand. “I live in an apartment, so super tall wine glasses aren’t that feasible,” said Michele Thomas, “but a glass with a stem that’s 3 or 4 inches is probably fine.” We avoided wine glasses that were too short and stubby, because they lack elegance and are unattractive, opting for glasses with longer, more classic stems. That said, we still wanted the glasses to be short enough to easily fit in a cupboard or in the top rack of a dishwasher. The length of the stem also needs to be long enough so you can comfortably hold the glass without your hand touching the bowl, which could warm the wine and leave smudges. In our testing, we found the ideal height of a wine glass is between about 8 and 9 inches.
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Alternative Wine Glasses

After blind tasting wine in more than 80 different glasses with a professional winemaker, a sommelier, and a wine critic, we think the best everyday wine glass is the Libbey Signature Kentfield Estate All-Purpose Wine Glass. We considered over 250 glasses, and we found that the inexpensive tulip-shaped Libbey glass enhanced the aromas of both red and white wines better than most of the competition. In our tests, it proved to be durable enough to withstand the rigors of daily use. Since the Libbey glass has all the features we look for in finer stemware at a bargain price, we think it’s the best all-purpose wine glass for your home.
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Alternative Wine Glasses

In our tests, we found that a slight tulip shape to the glass showcases wines best so that their aroma may be smelled and enjoyed before drinking (see this article on how the shape of a wine glass can affect the taste of wine). Sommelier Belinda Chang advised us, “There’s limitations to glasses that don’t go convex and then concave. As you’re swirling the wine and adding oxygen, you want the molecules that give aromas to line up and down the side of the glass.” Asimov agreed, saying, “You want the diameter of the rim to be a little less wide than the widest part of the bowl. That helps to channel aromas upwards and makes the aromas of the wine a little bit easier to detect.” We eliminated any glasses that didn’t taper inward at the top, such as the flared Riedel Vivant Burgundy, which made smelling wine aromas difficult in previous tests.
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The Ravenscroft glasses are surprisingly lightweight, which makes them feel more refined and elegant compared with the soda-lime glasses we tested, such as the Williams-Sonoma Open Kitchen Stemless White Wine Glasses. While Asimov isn’t a fan of stemless wine glasses, he said that the Ravenscroft glass is “light and not as heavy as the others.” Thomas agreed, saying, “It feels easy and comfortable to hold.” Aside from being lightweight, the Ravenscroft appeared more refractive and brilliant under the light compared to much of the competition in our stemless category.
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In addition to traditional stemware, many of the top glassware manufacturers offer stemless options. However, one of the biggest drawbacks to stemless glassware is that it leaves unsightly fingerprints on the surface of the glass. Furthermore, Asimov said, “the benefit of the stem is mostly that you’re not affecting the temperature of the wine with the heat of your hands. I think if you’re drinking a good wine, it’s a little bit of an affectation to serve it in stemless glasses. … But I’m not really snobbish about glasses. People can serve wine in whatever they want, but my preference is stemware.” Most of our experts agree that stemless glasses are fine for casual drinking, but they’re not not ideal for enjoying nicer wines on a regular basis.
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Thinner stems are more elegant and generally go hand-in-hand with high-end stemware. We sorted through hundreds of glasses for this guide, and in that time a clear pattern emerged––the less expensive the glass, the thicker the bowl and the stem become. However, delicate glasses with thinner stems aren’t the best choice if they will be used at parties or spend time in the dishwasher because they’re more likely to break. Even though all of the glasses we tested claim to be dishwasher-safe, very fine, thin crystal glasses should be washed by hand. For this guide, we looked at glasses that had stems with a range of thicknesses.

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