I am the type of person that chooses my morning coffee cup to suit my mood and the season. So it will be no surprise that I have very personal preferences when it comes to which wine glass I want to use at any given time.
I was delighted a couple of years ago to discover Titanium crystal. Instead of lead the glass is infused with titanium. The result is a light weight, dishwasher safe – yes- dishwasher safe-, break resistant, sturdy but elegant wine glass. Many wineries use titanium crystal wine glasses in their tasting rooms and they get a work out! Glasses may go through the industrial dishwasher 4 or 5 times a day. Titanium crystal doesn’t scratch and pit the way lead crystal does.
And then there is the famous whack-the-side-of the counter test. I was exploring the Schott Zwiesel Tritan line of crystal in Sur la Table in Chicago. The attendant was thrilled to show me the strength of the material by sharply striking what looked like a delicate crystal wine glass forcefully against the edge of the glass display shelf. I was sold!
I have been using my glasses regularly for a few years now, never hand wash them and they look as good as new. I did have one break however. The company is quite clear to not call them ‘unbreakable’ but break resistant. I lost one before I had even used it. I was putting them in the cupboard after washing them and one tipped and hit the edge of the shelf. And it shattered into a thousand tiny pieces, not quite as neatly as safety glass but that size. I have to say it wasn’t pretty. I suspect that I had in my collection a display model that had been ‘whacked’ one time too often and it was structurally damaged. The knock it got on my shelf did not warrant breaking it. Despite that I am a huge fan of my Titanium crystal.
I was curious though because Riedel is widely acknowledged as the gold standard for wine glasses. So I started to investigate. There seems to be a bit of a debate raging at the sommelier level about leaded crystal vs non-leaded crystal. Some say that lead crystal has slightly rougher texture to its surface and aerates the wine better. One study preferred Riedel and one preferred Schott so there doesn’t seem to be a right or wrong answer here. For me – much as I would like to think that my palate is that discerning – it is not!
If you are interested in cutting to the chase and finding the best value, best everyday, all purpose wine glasses read on!
I found two test results to be particularly helpful. Both tests were looking for the best everyday all purpose wine glass. Glasses were tested for their general ability to enhance whatever wine was in them as opposed to testing a specific varietal in a specific glass.
Criteria for what constitutes a good wine glass:
- the glass should be clear and unadorned so you can see the wine clearly
- the bowl should be big enough to swirl without risking overflowing
- the lip should be thin. ( I knew it!! My pet peeve is thick lipped glasses.)
- the bowl should taper slightly at the top to allow the the aromas to concentrate. Apparently a thin lip and tapered rim both help to direct the wine onto the tongue in a focused manner. Thick lips and wide rims can create ‘flavor chaos’ if the wine floods the mouth.
- white wine glasses can be a bit narrower.
- the glass should be well balanced to reduce the risk of tipping.
There was a ton of detail recorded in Eve O’Neills study so I have summarized the highlights and you can follow the link if you want the detail.
The Best Wine Glass by Eve O’Neill is the result of 8 hours of wine-tasting, blind testing 33 glasses. 130 different glasses were considered against the above criteria and a few other principles including a price per glass limit of $50. Testers were highly respected industry professionals. They tested red wines, whites, champagne, spirits in the scope of best ‘overall’.
The Best Wine Glass voted the [easyazon_link identifier=”B001EWE8W4″ locale=”CA” tag=”thewinlovskit-20″]Riedel Ouverture Magnum[/easyazon_link] the best all purpose wine glass, saying:
“The Riedel Ouverture Magnum is the best wine glass for most people. While it doesn’t excel at presenting any particular wine, it does a very good job of presenting just about everything, even Champagne and liquor. What’s more, its shorter stem makes it much more stable than the competition, which is always a good thing when you’re talking about objects that spend the majority of their time in the vicinity of tipsy people. This combination of versatility and practicality earned it our pick, as well as the endorsements of sommeliers and wine enthusiasts throughout the culinary world.
So for around $10, you get a crystal glass that is dishwasher safe, better equipped to withstand the rigors of an at-home kitchen than anything else we’ve found, and shaped to showcase white wine, red wine, Champagne, and spirits equally well. It’s everything that we were looking for and I was unable to find any glass that could compete. And if one day you want to upgrade to a more expensive or different-shaped glass, the Ouverture remains a practical option for everyday use.”
It holds 18 5/8 oz, stands 7 7/8 inches. In Canada it is currently listed at $16 for 2 but the price drops to about $12 for 8. They currently also qualify for free shipping.
[easyazon_link identifier=”B001EWE8W4″ locale=”CA” tag=”thewinlovskit-20″]Riedel Ouverture Magnum[/easyazon_link]
The other results that I found helpful were from a test by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher who write the “Tastings” weekly column for the Wall Street Journal. They tested 25 different glasses roughly against the same criteria as above but with a $15 limit per glass.
How to Select a Good Wine Glass is the result.
Their winner was the [easyazon_link identifier=”B00284AKCY” locale=”CA” tag=”thewinlovskit-20″]Schott Zwiesel Tritan Cru Bordeaux[/easyazon_link] saying:
“Best of tasting. Somewhat unusual shape, something like an egg, means that everything tasted a little bit new and different to us. “This feels great, comfortable in my hand,” Dottie said. It’s deceptive: It’s big yet it doesn’t feel too big. Great balance. All wines seemed a little bit more special in this glass. Great for swirling and sniffing.”
It holds 28 oz and stands 9 3/8″. In Canada it is currently on the order of $15 per glass.
[easyazon_link identifier=”B00284AKCY” locale=”CA” tag=”thewinlovskit-20″]Schott Zwiesel Tritan Cru Bordeaux[/easyazon_link]
Honorable Mentions and Good Value
Both reviews gave special mention to Riedel Vivant Bordeaux glass which is apparently the same glass as the [easyazon_link identifier=”B0039GJRHO” locale=”CA” tag=”thewinlovskit-20″]Nachtmann Vivendi Bordeaux[/easyazon_link] glass (Riedel owns Nachtmann). Interesting when you search Vivant Bordeaux on Amazon both products come up but the Riedel glasses are twice the price of the Nachtmann at which are currently listed at about $6 per glass. This presents an interesting choice – the Nachtmann produced the best wine experience but at the expense of convenience- not dishwasher safe and a little less stable. However at that price it is very tempting if you are prepared to hand wash and replace any potential broken glasses.
[easyazon_link identifier=”B0039GJRHO” locale=”CA” tag=”thewinlovskit-20″]Nachtmann Vivendi Bordeaux[/easyazon_link]
Other special mentions for value were the Crate & Barrel Elite Chardonnay glass at $5.95 holding 22 oz and standing 8 3/4″ but they don’t appear to be currently in stock. The Viv series from Crate and Barrel got special mention for its delicate thinness which is rare in the budget price range.
In the name of full disclosure, I started this post because of my personal enthusiasm for my Schott Zwiesel Tritan glasses. I decided to research where they stood in various quality reviews and found the following recommendations. If you decided to purchase any of the glasses through the links on this site I will receive a small commission.