Stemware: Spend Your Money on Good Wine, Not Crystal

The wine industry is ridiculous. There are thousands of articles out there about how wine should be less intimidating and more open to enthusiastic beginners. Then the same people who write this tell you why you should be drinking Pinot out of a Burgundy glass, never a Bordeaux glass. Don’t put your Champagne in a flute, it should be in a white wine glass! Well, you know what? It’s all so silly and annoying, that it makes you want to just drink straight from the bottle. All these “traditions” need to be re-evaluated and then let’s get rid of the dumb ones.  Life is complicated enough, let’s make it so you can enjoy what’s in your glass, not just the glass.


Life is complicated enough, let’s make it so you can enjoy what’s in your glass, not just the glass.


I won’t delve too deeply into the sensory science of why certain bowl shapes are better for different varieties or styles.  Riedel from Austria believes you should have a different glass for each wine you drink.  Well, they clearly have a profit motive to sell you more wine glasses!  Don’t trust them.  Pick a glass or two that you like, and relax.  After all, this whole wine thing is supposed to be about enjoyment, right?


The only rule I have: don’t wash your wine glasses at the end of the night.


Broken down into your budget level, here are a few suggestions.  Oh, and the only rule I have, is don’t wash your wine glasses at the end of the night.  I promise you, you’ll break far fewer if you wash them the next morning.  Just pour a little water in the bowl and sleep tight.  Trust me on this.


Here are a few suggestions:


Still paying off my college loans…

Ok, honestly, your best bet is to go to the thrift store.  You will find tons of wine glasses, “Hey here’s one from the Catalina Wine Mixer!” but rarely two alike.  Who cares?  This way you won’t feel bad when you break them, and your friend won’t keep taking your glass by mistake.  Another great option, if you're close to a wine country, is collecting glasses from tasting rooms.

If you’re a little more Type A, or just like matching sets of things, take a look at these:

Ikea’s Hederlig, or the Ivrig if you like to BBQ or camp.  No stems means less wine spilled.  If you’re going for durability, check out these stainless ones.

A nice set of all-around glasses are the Crate and Barrel Nattie series.  I like the red wine ones most.

If you like to have parties, consider getting some small bistro-style glasses like the Marta from CB2.  They will work for big groups, wash up easily and are cheap.  You don’t get quite the aromatics out of them, but they’re nice and thin which feels nice, though they are more fragile.

How am I ever going to pay for my kids’ college…

So, you now realize the plumber gets paid better than you.  I often wish I had just become a plumber, then I could have had a really cool Mercedes Sprinter van, and…  Anyway, back to stemware.  The above glasses will do you just fine, but maybe you drink more Cava these days?  Or, you know you like having a smaller glass for white wine.  Cool, check below for some options.

I like drinking Champagne or any bubbly from coupes.  No, the bubbles don’t last as long as they do in flutes.  But, sometimes a little style is nice.  Plus, when you get into making cocktails, you already have the perfect glass for that Sidecar.

These from CB2 are a nice white wine glass, but work great for reds as well.  If you love Pinot noir, like me, I recommend a nice big glass for those delicate wines.  By no means necessary, but a nice treat. These Burgundy glasses from Schott Zwiesel are strong and reasonably priced.

I fully contribute to my Roth IRA every year…

Maybe you have some old wines that need to decanted off the dregs?  Remember your poor grades in chemistry class with this Erlenmeyer flask.  Bistro style carafe.  Or, if you want something a bit classier, this one might be for you.  Decanters are great for your youngest wines too!  The aeration really helps open them up.

Hope that wasn’t information overload.  Basically, drink out of a glass you like- be it vintage from the charity shop, or a brand new Zalto, if that’s your thing.