Gifts for Wine Lovers

Glassware Galore

 


Originally published in 2011, eveything here still holds true today, and we've even added some great deals on glassware to buy this holiday season!

Still looking for that perfect holiday gift? Consider glassware. Seriously, it's something every wine lover needs. Considering that we tend to break glasses on a regular basis, even if we started the year with a full cupboard, there is always a time to replenish our supplies.

So what kind of glasses should you buy for your wine lover? That's an interesting and somewhat complex question that I can only begin to answer. So let me tell you what kind of glasses you can buy for me!

To begin with, I generally use only two styles of glassware: Burgundy and Bordeaux, as they are roughly known. I don't see the need for specific glasses for Syrah, Chianti, Viognier and Ripple, though you could probably find one for each. And why serve Champagne in flutes? I don't even like the often-aggressive bubbles in my sparklers as much as I like the aromas, which are as easy to appreciate in a flute as they were in the bottle.

So here are some tips on what to look for and what to buy when shopping for glassware this holiday season.

Photo courtesy DeeJayTee23 via Flickr/CC

Get In Shape

Like I said, you really only need a handful of bowl shapes. I lied when I said only Burgundy and Bordeaux stems since I also have white wine stems, but I use those for sweet wines. Confused?

Well to a certain extent, that's what manufacturers are hoping to capitalize on, your confusion. There is plenty of truth to the notion that different wines shows differently in various shaped glasses, the question is, do you care and are you interested in spending the time to find out?

For most people, that's an easy question to answer. For those of us who answered no, our needs are amply met by a pair of glasses with a nice graceful arc to the bowls, allowing for sufficient surface area to release aromas and ample space to capture them.

Spiegelau Vino Grande Burgundy Glass, Set of 4 $46

Size Matters

First is the bowl size, which I think should be in the 14-20 ounce range. Any smaller and your glasses will always be full. This might sound appealing, but in reality makes the glass a poor choice for capturing aromas. Larger than 20 ounces just seems excessive, and bulky for that matter, making the glasses more difficult to store, wash and use. Suburbanites' opinions may differ.

Another dimension you should take into consideration is the height of the glass. This is tied in with the volume of the bowl to a certain extent, but is also a design factor with many glasses. Long stems can be weak, making storing your glasses a pain in the glass. Oh, and did I mention my dishwasher's glass rack is 7 and 1/2 inches high?

Riedel Ouverture Magnum Red Wine Glass, Set of 6 plus 2 Bonus Glasses $64

Value Stemless

 

Stemless glasses are often just as expensive as their long legged brethren. Here is Libby's value line, really affordable and perfect for casual parties and clumsy friends!
 
This is a split pack with both red and white glass, which can also sub for highball and waterglaases, or rocks glasses.
 

Dishpan Hands

Yes, you heard me right. I said dishwasher because I wash my glasses in a dishwasher. Okay, the odd glass gets a hand washing. Since most of my glasses get used during dinner parties, and there are sometimes dozens of them, I am not washing them by hand.

What makes a glass dishwasher safe, to a certain extent, is your tolerance for breakage. There are many dishwasher safe glasses. In truth, most medium grade crystal is also relatively dishwasher safe, particularly when you don't wash the glasses with plates, knives and other potential flying objects. I've washed my Spiegelau in the dishwasher hundreds of times with hot water and little to no soap, and have only had a handful of casualties over the years.

As I mentioned before, the height of the glass plays an important role in whether it even fits in a dishwasher, so that is something to pay attention to as well. One way around the height issue is simply going stemless!

Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Glass Forte Collection, Set of 6 Red Wine Glasses $60

Bottomless Glasses!

Many wine snobs turns up their noses at stemless glassware, and not because they don't present aromas well.

No, most snobs complain about the fact that you are supposed to hold your wine glass by the stem to prevent heating the wine. Yes, and no white pants after labor day, no red wine with fish and never walk under a ladder.

This is snobbery at its best. While there is a grain of truth to this notion, no one is advocating cupping the bowl in your hand and warming it like cognac, which is frankly much easier to do with a stem slid between your figures in any event. There is plenty of space above the surface of the wine to hold onto your stemless. They also take up less space, are easy to fit in the dishwasher, and eliminate a famously weak point of departure that has resulted in many a smashed bowl. Do you need a better argument than that?

Luigi Bormioli Set of 4 Atelier Cabernet Merlot Stemless Glasses $36

Only the Best

 

When only the best will do, you might buy something other than Riedel's Vinum line, but I won't. Spending $25 on a wine glass  should buy you top level performance, and as far as I'm concerned it really does. These are awesome glasses, and a treat to drink from so consider them for your self, special occasions only, and for your friends so that when you come over at least there'll be something good to drink from. 
 
 

Thin Is In

Now here is a wine truism. Thin is in. It's simply better, to a point. Having very thin glass for your bowls puts lets between you and your wine, allowing you to put the wine right into the front of your mouth, making sure each mouthful gets to excite each and every one of your erudite taste buds.

Thick glass, rolled rims, or even many ridiculously ill-conceived bowl e designs have the wine pouring out onto the middle of your mouth, or even dribbling out around the edges, neither of which makes for a pleasant drinking experience.

You can get too thin, not for drinking but for actual real world use. I had some of those very thin and expensive glasses. I looked at one funny once and it broke from the shame. Yes, from pure shame.

Ravenscroft Invisibles New World Cabernet/Syrah Set of 4 $40

Plonk and Drunks

So now you've got a very good idea of the plusses and minuses associated with various stems, and even non-stems. So what is going to be the deciding factor for this purchase? How about intent?

Yes, intent. Are these glasses going to be used by a mature couple to enjoy wines with their evening meal which is always served on china? Then you might look for glassware that is up to the task.

On the other hand, if the wine lover on your list often entertains casually around the pool while serving barbecue, an alternate option might be in order. Ya think? Yup, I do.

From fancy stemware to unbreakable stemless, there's a perfect glassware gift for every wine lover on your list, now you simply have to find it!

Govino Shatterproof Stemless Wine Glasses - 8 pack $26

Want to Learn More?

Don't miss our selections for the Top 10 Wine Books for the Holidays!

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Comments

  • But whatever you choose, eschew the Paris goblet, that hideous little tennis ball of a glass condemned by George Reidel himself as “the enemy of wine”. A glass too thick and too small to enhance the flavour, too shallow and open to enhance the bouquet, and too mimsy to suggest generosity. Check out our posting on the subject at http://tinyurl.com/2bph4eo

    Dec 05, 2011 at 6:10 PM


  • Snooth User: erniex
    634476 60

    I have a small selection of glasses for various intend, bought out of a mix of curiousity and wine snobbery I suppose. I too seem to only use the classic Bordeaux and Burgundy ones for reds though, while for sweet, bubbles and everyday whites I have grown very funned of my mid sized tulip shaped glasses. I forget the brand and exact dimensions, but the shape I can surely recommend. Even for Cognac and Rum I think they do very well.

    Dec 05, 2011 at 10:27 PM


  • Snooth User: wineboy101
    167135 45

    Really. You let the height of your dishwasher determine what type glassware you use. And second hold your stemless above the level of the wine. I think you are stemless and the snob. I will rethink reading any more from snooth.

    Dec 10, 2011 at 2:36 PM


  • Why write a column when the point is, drink out of whatever you want, for whatever reason you can think of???

    Dec 03, 2012 at 2:13 PM


  • Snooth User: steve666
    392767 152

    For about $1.50 a stem you can buy a dozen tall Bordeaux shaped glasses from Amazon, about 22oz I think. Slightly thick rims, stems higher than needed, but look good. For $10 a stem, sometimes a little less on EBay or Amazon, Schlott-Zweisel (sp?) Tritan Bordeaux glasses cannot be beat. Shorter stems, thinner rims, and taller bowls make it really easy to swirl the wine for aeration. Really enjoy them and the glass is made with titanium, not lead. They also make a slightly heavier line for restaurants, catering, etc., also Tritan glass.

    Dec 03, 2012 at 3:57 PM


  • I prefer hand painted wine glasses. They are elegant yet affordable. The uniqueness of a hand painted wine glass allows it to be a perfect gift for several occasions during the year.

    Dec 03, 2012 at 5:03 PM


  • Snooth User: Jonar
    156583 128

    9 oz tulip Champagne glasses, agree with the Champagne houses in Reims / Epernay using them. I ordered a dozen of these.

    Large Bordeaux for others, we especially prefer reds.

    Why have I posted this info 3x and it is gone from the comments when I return the next day? Are we supposed to only consider the items hawked by this website?

    Dec 06, 2012 at 11:57 AM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 213,385

    Hi Jonar,

    No way. We don't delete comments here. I've had a lot of issues with this article, links breaking and the like so I've been editing it a lot. I don't know if that could be part of the issue, if I have it open in my edit screen and then save it maybe it saves only the comments that were love when I opened my edit scree? I'll ask my tech team but rest assured we are not deleting your comments!

    Dec 06, 2012 at 12:36 PM


  • Snooth User: Jonar
    156583 128

    Greg, Thanks! Originally I stated that I found a dozen 9 oz tulip glasses from an internet restaurant supply house, roughly $4 each. I really like the Riedel large Bordeaux for everything other than bubbly.
    A local liquor store includes one of these with each "big" charity wine tasting in the Fall and Spring, $20 tasting if anyone wants to look for MacAdoodles in Pineville, MO for 150+ wines to taste from many different distributors / wineries.

    Dec 06, 2012 at 1:39 PM


  • erniex is right onhere. We have these midsize tulip glasses, ours were called "DOC" glasses on the box. They turn up at tastings and are ideal for whites and cognacs and rums and grappa/cachacas. Little pear shaped glasses we find best with whiskies and eaux des vies. Schott/Zwiesel type taller, bigger tulip and burgundy glasses enhance good wines. We noticed more of a flatter, less high bowl shaped glass was served in Alsace and find that enhances their regional varieties. In general if you serve a larger glass with a more aromatic wine it enables the guest to swirl it around, also for air contact to be maximised and bring out the flavours. If a young red, pouring it into a decanter then into the big glass will do this especially from high up.

    Dec 10, 2012 at 5:50 AM


  • fentastic

    Aug 30, 2013 at 3:04 AM


  • I prefer owning 2 sets of stemmed wine glasses, one short yet with a nice round bowl. The other set has much taller stem & much larger bowl for entertaining & dinners. The first of the two is for the casual "how about we share a bottle" galss, the second choice is keep the glass unempty making sure diners have wine at all times throughout dinner. I also did my own research on the stemless glasses which I really dislike as they get messy looking over the course of the evening, & yes they do warm the wine terribly. Also with stemmed glasses you can add stem rings so that your guests don't end up drinking out of someone else's glass. Often my friends bring along their own little stem rings knowing that I would NEVER serve wine in a stemless glass! BTW I NEVER put my wine glasses in the dishwasher. They are hand washed with small amount of detergent, rinsed thoroughly & dried with lint free coffee filters for a beautiful clear glass. Wine glases get destroyed in the dishwasher & always leave spots that are going to affect the taste of the wine. Oh, I do have a very nice 20 oz. large bowl (stemmed) glass as well.

    Dec 18, 2013 at 3:44 PM


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