This post is part of our 'This Is Fire' series, where our editors and writers tell you about the products they can't live without in the kitchen.
If you talk to any wine industry professional about tasting, it’s more likely than not that the topic of glassware will come up within a matter of minutes. Although every taster has their unique preferences, one thing’s for sure: nearly everyone will agree that using solid glassware matters.
For those looking to really hone their tasting skills, or those simply looking to get the most out of their at-home wine-drinking experience, investing in a solid glass or two is definitely worth the money.
I’ve been at the wine-tasting game for quite some time now, and needless to say, I’ve experienced a lot—and I mean a lot—of glassware. If I’m being honest, most of the stuff out there is pretty mediocre, even at restaurants. And rightfully so. Good glassware can be a pretty hefty investment, especially if buying in bulk, and for the number of glasses that get broken in non-wine-focused establishments, I honestly can’t blame them for sticking with average stems. Now serious wine bars, that’s a different story.
Zalto Denk'Art Universal Hand-Blown Wine Glass
Functionality – the cream of the crop for showing wine at its best
Versatility – great for all styles of wine
Expensive (and can be hard to find at certain times of the year)
Extremely fragile – the stem can snap quite easily, especially when washing
For those looking to really hone their tasting skills, or those simply looking to get the most out of their at-home wine-drinking experience, investing in a solid glass or two is definitely worth the money. I was introduced to the Zalto “Denk’Art” Universal pretty early on in my career, and while I was told it was the best, its $60 price tag was definitely a turn-off, especially as an early-twenty-something barely scraping by.
Crafted from mouth-blown, lead-free glass, the stemware’s paper-thin lip and luxurious, thin stem make holding the glass a luxurious experience in itself.
However, as time went on, I noticed that I truly relished any drinking experience that involved a Zalto glass, be it at a wine bar, a higher-end restaurant, or at a swanky friend’s home. The way that the glass felt in the hand, coupled with the way that wine’s aromas simply jumped from the glass, glided beautifully in the bowl, and showed so much character in the mouth, was simply unforgettable. Eventually, I asked for a set for Christmas, and my dad delivered.
Upon receiving the coveted glassware, I couldn’t wait to get home and use them; transparently, I snapped one within days after receiving them as a gift—after all, these glasses are as delicate as they come. However, a few years later, I can still say that I have the same exact second glass from that original pack, complete with wine stains and all (note to self: don’t leave red wine in the glass overnight, no matter how drunk and tired you are).
In short, the glass is basically a one-size-fits-all model for wine.
Beyond the sentimental value of the glass, its functionality is truly what makes it go the limits. Crafted from mouth-blown, lead-free glass, the stemware’s paper-thin lip and luxurious, thin stem make holding the glass a luxurious experience in itself, while also allowing the wine to show its best side. Think of them like functionality meets finesse in the best possible way.
Best of all, the Universal aspect of the glass means that it’s pretty much adapted to ensure that all wines show their best—none of this Bordeaux glass versus Burgundy stem stuff. In short, the glass is basically a one-size-fits-all model for wine. While the manufacturer states that the product is dishwasher safe—even encouraged, due to the fragility of the stemware—I’d recommend sticking with very, very gentle handwashing with minimal product unless you have some way to quickly steam clean the bowls without handling them. (If this is the case, be sure to open the door to let the steam out as soon as the cycle is done, as excess steam can cause the glasses to break.) Polish carefully with a microfiber towel and you’re good to go!
Size: 9.3 inches (h) x 3.6 (w) | Volume: 18 oz. (530 mL) | Weight: 0.2 pounds (110 grams) | Material: Hand-blown crystal
Why Trust Spruce Eats
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.