After blind tasting wine in more than 80 different glasses with a professional winemaker, a sommelier, and a wine critic, we think the best everyday wine glass is the Libbey Signature Kentfield Estate All-Purpose Wine Glass. We considered over 250 glasses, and we found that the inexpensive tulip-shaped Libbey glass enhanced the aromas of both red and white wines better than most of the competition. In our tests, it proved to be durable enough to withstand the rigors of daily use. Since the Libbey glass has all the features we look for in finer stemware at a bargain price, we think it’s the best all-purpose wine glass for your home.
We recommend the Riedel Veritas Cabernet/Merlot Glass and the Riedel Veritas Viognier/Chardonnay Glass for those who prefer separate glasses for red and white wine. Both of our testers chose the Riedel Veritas glasses as their top pick for varietal-specific glasses during our blind taste tests. The ultra-thin rim on the Veritas glasses makes them a pleasure to drink from, and the stems are thinner and longer than that of our top pick, making these glasses better candidates for an elegant table setting. The Veritas series is made of non-leaded crystal, so the glasses are thinner and more effectively refract light than the soda-lime glasses we tested.
Both of our testers chose the Riedel Veritas glasses as their top pick for varietal-specific glasses during our blind taste tests.
If you want a different type of glass for each type of wine, we think the Veritas Cabernet/Merlot and the Viognier/Chardonnay glasses are an excellent place to start. While tasting white wine in the Veritas Viognier/Chardonnay glass, Thomas said it, “concentrates the acidity and fruit notes.” The Viognier/Chardonnay glass is just over 13 ounces, which helps to preserve the subtleties of more delicate whites. At around 22 ounces, the Cabernet/Merlot glass is no doubt the best for showcasing bolder reds.
Our testers were impressed by the overall weight and balance of the Veritas glasses. Asimov praised the Veritas Cabernet/Merlot glass: “It’s the best of the red wine glasses. It’s balanced and a pleasure to hold. It’s relatively light and feels expensive.” Thomas also noted, “These glasses are beautifully balanced, but they’re not for normal everyday use.” The thin, laser-cut rim on the glass has no lip, while the stems are thinly pulled, adding drama to any table setting.
The Riedel Veritas glasses are machine-made, but they feel so thin you’d guess they were mouth-blown, like our upgrade pick, the Zalto. However, since these glasses are so delicate, we don’t recommend them for daily use, and we’d hesitate to put them in the dishwasher (even though they’re considered dishwasher-safe). Both of the Veritas glasses we tested passed our impact tests, aside from the fateful 3-foot drop.
Our testers pointed out that the Veritas Cabernet/Merlot glass might be considered too big for some people, especially those who mostly drink lighter bodied reds. However, since there are nine wine glasses to choose from in this collection, we don’t think its size is a dealbreaker.
Care and maintenance
While all of the glasses we recommend are top-rack dishwasher-safe, we think those that are very thin, such as the Zalto and the Riedel Veritas glasses, should be washed by hand. Our experts told us that big bowls with thin stems are more likely to break. “All of the Zalto sales literature guarantees that they’re safe for dishwashers,” Asimov said, “but they feel fragile and they are expensive, so I’m a little hesitant to do that.” We recommend cleaning delicate stemware by hand using hot water and a little bit of dish soap. For glasses with narrow openings, we recommend using a bottle brush. Dry the glasses using paper towels or a regular kitchen towel.
To remove water spots and smudges, or to get your glassware really sparkly, we recommend hand polishing it using a microfiber polishing cloth. If there are hard-to-remove stains on the glass, try using a little white vinegar (just be sure to wash them after). Never polish your glass by holding the base in one hand and twisting the polishing cloth around the rim of the bowl at the top, which could torque and snap thinner stems. Instead, hold the glass by the bowl while polishing to avoid twisting it apart. Check out this Riedel video for the proper polishing technique. Also, never use linen softener when cleaning your polishing cloth, as this could leave a greasy residue on the surface of your wine glasses.
It goes without saying, but to avoid scratching your stemware, never let it rattle around in the dishwasher or come in contact with other glass or metal. When storing your glassware, Scott Carney said it should be kept upright: “You don’t want to have it upside down putting pressure on the rim. It should always be standing on its foot.”
Toxicity concerns with leaded crystal
Regarding the toxicity of leaded glassware, articles in The New York Times and Wine Spectator indicate that leaded crystal is safe to drink from. Our science editor, Leigh Krietsch Boerner, PhD., confirmed the only potential danger with leaded crystal crops up if booze is stored in it. That gives the lead time to leach into the liquid, so avoid storing alcohol in leaded-crystal decanters.
In contrast, the short amount of time a few ounces of wine spends in contact with a glass isn’t enough for a significant amount of lead to leach from the product. We know it might sound alarming to allow any amount of lead into your wine, but toxicity is directly related to dose, not necessarily to the compound you’re ingesting. (That’s why you can eat the cyanide in an apple and it won’t hurt you.)
All-purpose wine glasses
The Riedel Ouverture Magnum was our previous top pick. However, in our new round of testing, our experts found the stem on the Ouverture Magnum too short and unpleasant to hold. Though it did well in our taste tests, our experts felt that our new pick, the Libbey Signature Kentfield Estate All-Purpose Wine Glass, was an all-around better glass.
The Veritas Riesling/Zinfandel Glass is undeniably elegant. Our experts felt it was suitable for white wines, but too narrow for red wines.
The Stolzle Weinland All Purpose 15 oz. did very well in our tastings, but our testers felt it lacks elegance because it is shorter, and has a small bowl and a slight lip on the rim. According to a representative we spoke with at Anchor Hocking, this glass is being discontinued.
Stemless wine glasses
The Mikasa Laura Set of 4 stemless wine glasses were the unanimous second choice for stemless glasses in our blind taste test. These glasses enhanced the aromas of red and white wines, though not as well as our main pick, the Ravenscroft.
Our testers found the Riedel O Wine Tumbler too big for white wines and uncomfortable to hold. We wished this glass had a smaller bowl with a slightly narrower opening.
Varietal-specific wine glasses
Both the Bormioli Rocco Tre Sensi Large Wine Glass and the Tre Sensi Medium Wine Glass did well in our blind taste test. However, they have a slight lip around the rim of the glass, which our testers found more distracting than our main pick for varietal-specific glasses, the Riedel Veritas glasses.
According to our experts, the Riedel Vinum Bordeaux and the Riedel Vinum Viognier/Chardonnay glasses showcased wine aroma well. However, our testers felt that the red wine glass was slightly small for big, bold wines.
The Bormioli Rocco Spazio 17 oz. Wine Glass by Bormioli Rocco and Spazio 13.5 oz. Wine Glass by Bormioli Rocco were top-heavy and uncomfortable to hold. They also felt that the length of the red wine glass had a bowl that was too long, while the stem was too short.
While our testers liked the Forte Stemware Collection Full Bodied White Wine Glass 17.3 oz. and felt it was an appropriate shape and size for most white wines, they found the Forte Stemware Collection Burgundy Light Bodied White Wine Glass 13.6 oz. to be too deep to detect wine aroma.
The Viv 20 oz. Big Red Wine Glass and the Viv 13 oz. White Wine Glass are great budget varietal glasses. However, they have a slight lip and shorter stems, which makes them less comfortable to hold than the Riedel Veritas glasses.
After our blind taste testing, we were able to dismiss wine glasses from Stolzle, Riedel, Nachtmann, Schott Zwiesel, Spiegelau, Luigi Bormioli, Bormioli Rocco, Snowe, Libbey, Mikasa, Luminarc, Ravenscroft, Rogaska, Rosenthal, Villeroy & Boch, Lenox, Waterford, Crate & Barrel, IKEA, Target, and Bed Bath & Beyond. We were able to rule out wine glasses from these competitors based on the tasting results from our experts, or issues relating to limited availability and quality. Additionally, we looked at offerings from CB2, Fishs Eddy, Pottery Barn, Sur la Table, Williams-Sonoma, World Market, and Macy’s, but ultimately we were able to dismiss them because they didn’t meet the criteria for this guide.
(Photos by Michael Hession.)