Stemware in your cupboard gets used the most during the holiday season and summer entertaining. The holidays put us all in a good mood, but if we are going to be stuck inside, well, we can’t be jolly without booze. And if we are going to be entertaining in summer heat, we need appropriate stemware to keep us cool. 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, collect the basic 5 to include the almighty martini glass…it’s the mecca for vodka.

Stemware basics:

Stemware should be clear, colorless, crystal and contain a thin lip, (like grandma). 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 areas of the tongue for optimum taste. It is said that a thick rimmed glass accentuates the wines flaws, so apparently drinking from a coffee cup isn’t ideal, damn!  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….I mean enjoy it. Here are the basic four that every collection should hold:

1) The Bordeaux and Burgundy glass

Riedel Bordeaux glass, Riedel Burgundy glass

Their should be two “red” glasses in your cupboard. The first is the Bordeaux glass. Built for 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 air, allowing the aroma to hit the olfactory bulbs (aka, the nose),increasing the body of the flavor.

The Burgundy glass is the tallest glass in your collection. Built for more delicate wines like 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

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 which enhances 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:

Drinking the juice 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 cupboard aromas, kitchen smells and soap. Don’t ever 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. 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.

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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The Crystal Company, Riedel Crystal, New York Mag