To me, stemware is certainly one of the finer things in life. With so many beautiful options, it’s hard not to admire the shear beauty the glass alone beholds. I tend to hoard stemware, and while I have plenty, I still covet many. Some enthusiasts have special glasses for every type of Spirit made, however, a good stemware collection only needs the basic 4, but if you are a lush like me, the basic 5 includes the almighty martini glass…it’s the mecca for vodka!

If you tend not to use the champagne or martini glass, or like to keep things simple, here’s a great collection of  Riedel glasses to get you started in the wine snob club. And in case you’re wondering, Riedel glasses are THE gold standard for drinking the juice. So these will at least make you look like you know what you’re doing.

Stemware every bar needs to look like a wine snob

Stemware every bar needs to look like a wine snob.

First the basics, Stemware 101

Stemware should be clear, colorless, crystal and contain a thin lip. Colored or etched glass is said to take away from the beauty of the juice. Reds require a tulip shaped glass to collect aroma, and a thin lip helps direct the wine to the most sensitive palette of the tongue for optimum taste. It is said that a thick rimmed glass accentuates the wines flaws, so this is why drinking from a coffee cup is frowned upon by wine snobs.

All wines should be enjoyed in glasses made of crystal. On a microscopic level, crystal has a larger rougher surface which helps release aromas as you suck it down….and or enjoy it. Here are the basic four that every collection should hold:

1) The Bordeaux and Burgundy glass

Riedel Bordeaux glass, Riedel Burgundy glass

A true wine snob knows the difference between their reds. Your bar should have two types of “red” glasses in the cupboard. The first is the bordeaux glass. Built for robust, hearty, rich, red wines like cabernets and merlots. Bordeaux glasses have a tulip shape and are shorter than its counterpart, the Burgundy glass. Red wine glasses have a wider bowl and mouth compared to other glasses, to allow the wine to “breathe”and develop a bouquet. You will often see enthusiasts swirl their wine which releases molecules into the bowl of the glass, allowing the aroma to hit the olfactory bulbs (aka, the nose),increasing the body of the flavor.

The Burgundy glass will be the tallest glass in your collection. Built for more delicate wines like a pinot noir, this glass is suitable for wines that are so subtle they need a larger glass bowl to gather their aromas.

2) Champagne flute

Riedel Champagne Flute

No bar is complete without this celebration staple. Champagne glasses traditionally were poured into champagne coupes, which were short, shallow glasses. Today, champagne is served in a champagne flute
which is a long slender design built to enhance temperature, taste, and allows the proper development of bubbly enjoyment! Salute!

3) White wine

Riedel White wine glass

White Wine glasses are narrower than reds and don’t have the distinctive tulip shape. White wine is better enjoyed at a temperature between 42 and 52 degrees and the narrower glass helps maintain this temperature when held by the stem.

Cleaning and storage basics:

Your stemware collection is not just about drinking, but about the experience. Serve a $10 bottle of wine in a coffee cup and it tastes cheap. Serve it in a Riedel bordeaux and it will taste amazing! Same goes for a dirty glass. Crystal’s larger, rougher surface absorbs everything, including cupboard aromas, kitchen smells and soap. Never grab a glass straight from the cupboard and serve wine in it. Fill the sink with warm water, (approximately half full)  place a dish towel at the bottom and pour a quarter cup of vinegar in with the detergent. Don’t ever place a glass into hot soapy water. The extreme temperature change will result in damage, like the stem breaking off. Dry with a lint free linen towel that does not have fabric softener on it (this will leave a film). Before serving, smell the glass….if it’s soapy smelling, repeat cleaning, with less soap and more vinegar.

Store glasses in a dry even tempered space that is safe from damage. If properly cared for, crystal glasses will last for generations.


All photos provided by riedel usa

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