Washing glassware is a housekeeping task that sounds simple enough, so what's so special about washing a wine glass? The truth is, wine glasses do need just a bit more care than your juice or water tumblers. Keep in mind that the liquid in the wine glass is typically a bit pricier than a gallon of milk or orange juice, so the extra measures you take to ensure a clean glass could be viewed as merely protecting your investment.
To Soap or Not to Soap
There is some debate in the wine world about whether you should use dish soap to wash wine glasses. It's true that residual detergents can impact the smell and taste of a wine, so if the surfactants you use tend to be particularly sticky and problematic to rinse out thoroughly, then you might consider forgoing the soap and rinsing with hot water only or employing a spray or two of hydrogen peroxide and then rinsing the glass.
Wine Glass Washing Approaches
1. The Rinser Method
This is as easy as it sounds -- just rinse your wine glasses multiple times (three is a good number) with hot water. Make sure that all of the residual wine is removed and allow glasses to air dry, turned upside down on a clean towel.
2. The Washer Method
Using a mild detergent, sparingly add a drop to each glass and sponge the soap around to remove all wine stain. Then rinse the heck out of the glass. Soap residue left on your wine glass will interfere with the flavor and aroma of wine. Keep in mind that there are several wine glass specific cleaning products out there designed for use on wine glasses that range from cheap to the more expensive Riedel and Spiegelaus glasses. There are various cleaners designed specifically for wine glasses and can handle lipstick smudges, red wine residue, and sediments along with oily fingerprints on wine glasses quite well.
3. The Soda Method
Often reserved for delicate crystal glasses, washing soda (or baking soda if you are hard pressed) will gently clean the glass and absorb any residual wine. Washing soda is available in most grocery stores in the detergent section. Remember that crystal is much more porous than typical glass and is more likely to absorb odors from its storage companions -- for example, a cupboard full of coffee or cleaning detergents used in the process.
4. Dishwasher Method
Wine glasses that have shorter stems and that are not made from crystal are ideal candidates for the good old dishwasher. Just use a bit less detergent than you would for a normal, full load and don't set the wash cycle on "heat dry," so that you avoid baking on detergent that has not washed clean. Once the cycle is complete, immediately remove glasses and hand dry with a lint-free dish towel.
Your cleaning method may vary, but the result should always be the same -- a clean glass of wine, every time.