When it comes to great glassware, not all stems are created equal—and the variety spans far beyond the traditional red, white, and sparkling glasses. In addition to considering the size, shape or style of the wine in the glass, thinking about the wine’s grape variety base, and additional factors will help in choosing the best pick for every pour. Curious to learn more? We’ve got you covered.
Catherine Fallis, Master Sommelier at Bright Cellars, explains that wine glasses come in a few basic shapes and sizes, each carefully designed with the region and grape variety in mind. “Smaller white and larger red glasses are either in the Burgundian style, with a curvaceous globe shape, or the Bordeaux style, more of a wide column or chimney shape,” she explains, stating that globe shape glasses show off Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (the grapes of Burgundy), whereas the Bordeaux shape flatters grapes grown there (Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and beyond).
“A glass that has been designed for a specific type of wine will enhance the enjoyment of that wine, but a good wine will taste good in any glass,” she reveals, stemless glassware included. The general rule of thumb? According to Fallis, a thinner, lighter glass will enhance the wine-drinking experience—but make no mistake, an expensive glass will not enhance a mediocre wine to taste better.
We’ve selected our favorite glassware options that span a variety of uses, price points, and grape variety and region highlights. Check them out here:
Schott Zwiesel Tritan Pure Cabernet Wine Glasses (Set of 6)
Optional set size
Not as thin as other glassware
In terms of quality, functionality, design, and price, Schott Zwiesel’s Tritan collection sits at the top of our list. Crafted in Germany from Tritan crystal, a patented material made up of titanium and zirconium oxides, these well-designed glasses are the ideal height, weight, and size for enjoying light to full-bodied reds of all styles.
Jen Saxby, certified, sommelier and sales and event manager at Benchmark Wine Group, explains that good wine glasses have a “smooth and thin rim” to help with the flow of wine to mouth. “Shape and weight are also important for attenuating the aromas and to provide a comfortable, almost luxurious mouthfeel,” she explains. Additionally, Fallis describes Schott Zwiesel as “a brand to look for with very appealing prices.”
Price at the time of publish: $72 for set of 6
Material: Glass | Capacity: 18.2 oz | Dishwasher safe: Yes
Crate & Barrel Marin Red Wine Glass
Good for groups/gatherings
Basic, less refined
It’s true—great red wine glasses needn’t break the bank, and for a variety of options, Crate & Barrel is a great place to start. Amongst their budget-friendly lineup of individual glasses, we’ve found the Marin to be the best quality-to-price ratio option. At under $8 a glass, these affordable glasses are well crafted, dishwasher safe, and greatly resemble the design and quality of other hand-blown (and more expensive!) options.
Fallis reveals that it is quite easy to find “very nice, fairly thin stemware at Crate & Barrel, as well as Cost Plus World Market, starting at $4 per glass.” Note: For our runner-up favorite at Crate & Barrel, check out the Tour Red Wine Glass here.
Price at the time of publish: $7.95 per glass
Material: Glass | Capacity: 21 oz. | Dishwasher safe: Yes
Zalto Denk'Art Universal Hand-Blown Wine Glass
Works well for all styles of wine
When it comes to high-quality glassware, there’s simply no competition—Zaltos are the cream of the crop. Beloved by sommeliers, wine connoisseurs, and novices alike, these world-glass stems are produced from hand-blown crystal in Austria, and promise luxury upon first (and every) sip.
Saxby notes that Zaltos are generally a favorite among many top wine tasters, despite their hefty price tag. “The quality of a wine glass can change the way you experience wine and texture perceptions,” she explains, citing this as one of the many reasons why changing glassware is a big part of running a successful beverage program at restaurants.
Price at the time of publish: $68-75 per glass
Material: Crystal | Capacity: 18 oz. | Dishwasher safe: Yes
Gabriel-Glas Austrian Crystal Wine Glass StandArt Edition (Set of 2)
Comes with gift box
Available in single, 2-pack, or 6-pack options
Unique shape—may not be appealing to all
For a happy-medium option that can go the limits, check out Gabriel-Glas Austrian Crystal ‘StandArt’ glasses. Ideal for white, red, sparkling, and dessert wines, this versatile set of stems is perfect for concentrating aromatics and emphasizing the best that a wine has to offer, no matter what style or variety it’s made from. The unique shape of the glass is hand-perfected by skilled craftsmen near Salzburg, Austria from a base of lead-free crystal. Best of all, this set of gorgeous stems come in a beautiful gift box, perfect for giving to loved ones or storing neatly in your own home.
Price at the time of publish: $68 for set of 2
Material: Crystal | Capacity: 8 oz. | Dishwasher safe: Yes
Glasvin Universal Wine Glass, Set of 2
Available in standard or stemless
Great Zalto alternative
Seeking a Zalto-like alternative without the hefty price tag? Look no further than Glasvin. This all-purpose, universal glass is ideal for serving any style of wine, though we prefer it most with light to medium-bodied reds. Similar to Zaltos, Glasvin stems sit extremely lightly in the hand, thanks to their lead-free crystal foundation and paper-thin rim.
Fallis states that beyond knowing the basic shapes, the choice of finding a go-to wine glass is very personal. “You should like the look and feel of the glass in your hand,” she says, stating that if the glass is too heavy or too large, it likely won’t make you happy for too long.
Price at the time of publish: $79 for set of 2
Material: Crystal | Capacity: 16.9 oz. | Dishwasher safe: Yes
Best for Pros
Richard Brendon X Jancis Robinson 'The Perfect Wine Glass'
Available in standard or stemless
For a glass fit for the pros, simply reach for one designed by them. In collaboration with world-renowned wine critic Jancis Robinson, Richard Brendon created ‘The Perfect Wine Glass’ so as to offer a universal option for whites, rosés, and red wines alike. Each stem is produced from mouth-blown crystal, offering as thin of a rim as possible, which in turn, allows the wine to steal the show. Despite its extremely thin stem and rim, the glass remains durable and dishwasher safe, rendering it perfect for wine dinners and at-home happy hours with friends.
“The best glasses have the thinnest glass and are very light to hold but are incredibly fragile,” explains Fallis. “They tend to break easily and are very pricey,” she says. Her solution? Relegating the remaining glasses to a cupboard that no one—except for you, of course—is allowed to access.
Price at the time of publish: $128 for set of 2
Material: Crystal | Capacity: Ideal 4 oz. pour (according to site) | Dishwasher safe: Yes
Made In Red Wine Glasses (Set of 4)
Bordeaux shape, sleek design
Set of 4
For a stemware gift that checks all of our boxes, dive into Made In’s four-pack of red wine glasses. Produced in Italy, these beautiful-yet-sturdy glasses are crafted with titanium-reinforced stems, allowing a high resistance to breakage. The stems’ classic Bordeaux shape, sleek design, and middle-of-the-road price tag make them our go-to gifting option.
“Different wine varieties are going to call for different glass shapes,” explains Saxby, equally noting that when seeking out wine glasses, remembering that low-quality glasses will generally boast thicker rims, which in turn, add an “undesirable texture” to a wine experience.
Price at the time of publish: $69 for set of 4
Material: Glass | Capacity: 23 oz. | Dishwasher safe: Yes
Riedel O Wine Tumbler Cabernet/Merlot
Non-slip, easy to take on the go
Less refined than stems
“Stemless wine glasses were created to fit in dishwashers, so that is a practical choice,” says Fallis, stating that one of the main non-negotiables with glassware—stemless or not—is the ability to see the wine without distraction. For those skeptical of glassware without stems, these well-structured, sturdy wine tumblers from Riedel are a solid place to start.
Crafted with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in mind, these well-designed tumblers feel great in the hand, take up minimal space in the cabinet, and are entirely dishwasher safe. “Wine brings joy, and your glass should also make you happy,” she says, describing Riedel as the “gold standard” brand in the category.
Price at the time of publish: $35 for set of 2
Material: Crystal | Capacity: 21.8 oz. | Dishwasher safe: Yes
Schott Zwiesel Pure Cabernet Glasses are crafted in Germany from Tritan crystal and are the ideal height, weight, and size for enjoying light to full-bodied reds of all styles. They offer a six-pack at an affordable price point and are dishwasher-safe to boot! If you are looking to build out your wine glass collection on a budget, look to Crate & Barrel's Marin Red Wine Glass for a wallet-friendly option.
What to Look For
Above all, look for a wine glass with a thin rim to ensure the best drinking experience, as well as a thin stem (these will feel the best and most lightweight in your hand). Consider the color, region, and grape variety of the wine in question when choosing your stemware. Above all, make sure to choose stemware that you feel good in your hand, that you enjoy drinking out of, and that falls within your desired spending point. Beyond the obvious parameters, Fallis sums it up best. “It really comes down to what you like and what you would like to spend.”
Why are red and white wine glasses shaped differently?
Red wine glasses are generally larger than white wine glasses, as red wines usually require more oxygen to open up their aromatics.
How does the shape of a wine glass impact the taste of wine?
The shape of a wine glass has the ability to intensify or disperse a wine’s aromas, depending on how big or small it is. Should the glass be too large, too much oxygen will create much less intense aromatics, however, should a glass be too small, it may be challenging to get enough oxygen into the glass (as well as fit your nose in there!)
How do you clean/care for wine glasses?
While most glasses state that they are dishwasher safe, we recommend cleaning all stemware by hand. Simply use a dash of unscented soap and hot water, and the rest is history. (We recommend using your actual hands to rub the shop around the interior and rim, as sponges can end up scuffing or scratching glassware, though a soft, new sponge or rag is a good option.)
Does colored glass affect the taste of wine?
No, colored glassware will not affect the taste of the wine, however, it will most certainly alter the look of it through the glass, and in turn, the overall tasting experience as a whole.
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Vicki Denig is a wine, spirits, and travel journalist based between New York and Paris. Her writing regularly appears in major industry publications, including Liquor.com, WineSearcher, Decanter, and beyond. Vicki also works with a prestigious rolodex of monthly clients, including Paris Wine Company, Becky Wasserman & Co, Corkbuzz, Provignage, and beyond. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine. When not writing, Vicki enjoys indoor cycling classes and scoping out dogs to pet in her local parks.