2018’s Best Wine Glasses Review and Buying Guide (Updated)
Wine glasses have gradually become an interesting piece of conversation. In the recent popularity of dégustations and various gastronomic trends, questions as to the importance of paying close attention to one's glass, its correlation with the flavour and enjoyment of wine have been asked time and time again. Some argue it a matter of preference. Sommeliers and other knowledgeable people in wine will tell you that that isn't true. The glass you chose, it's quality, size , shape and material matter a great deal.
Each slight deviation or enhancement plays an important role at enhancing your senses both perception and taste. Glasses made from different materials such as Crystal or soda-lime glass have been available for decades in an ever growing array of shapes and sizes. some like Crystal Champagne cups have even made their mark as a cultural icon. 'Remember The Great Gatsby?'
Looking deeper into why glass has become co controversial, you find there are subtle details within production, timeless tradition and the ultimate desired use that will determine and affect our perception of wine using glass.
Mouth-blown glasses hold more value because of their artisan-like quality and attention to detail. Not to scoff at Machine-blown glasses that produce more quantity and standard quality. When it comes to serving, what really matters is the size of the bowl. A small bowl is ideal for white wines, thus ensures the wine remains chilled keeping the fresh characters intact for longer. Larger bowls aerate red wines much easier than the former, more oxygen is in contact with the wines encouraging the tannins to soften and the tertiary aromas to come through.
In this article we will explore in detail the controls employed for keeping Lead out of glasses, differences between glasses, put to rest the issue of whether Crystal glasses are better with their ornate and delicate build from glass rim to stem.
How DIfferent shape of glass affect the taste of wine ?
To really understand the reason behind the wine-glass-fuss, we must first begin with how wine is appreciated.
Like any other component, it has structural building blocks that add up, or balance and sometimes tensely contrast to give an outstanding flavour experience. These are Tannin, Alcohol, Acidity, Sweetness. These 'blocks' exist together in the wine sometimes at varying levels or in seamless harmony. Being able to tell which of these is prominent or why they are balanced can tell you a whole lot about the process of winemaking, the region, the varietal, the ageing capability and overall; the winemaker's vision for his creation.
Take for example a gold, clear and bright wine, wildly aromatic nose of peaches, cream, spice and herbs. The palate is amazing with concentrations of rich, sweet peach, figgy fruit with lemony freshness and spicy vanilla oak notes. This is a young wooded Bellingham Chennin Blanc 2007 from South Africa.
Now, lets say your glass was cloudy or blemished, thick with a wide bowl, wide mouth and narrow (or no) stem. Finding this out would be no easy task. No stem means you have warmed your wine, a wide mouth and bowl will allow too much air (oxygen) into the glass way too quickly and not give you enough concentration of aromas at the nose. Meaning, when you put your nose in, all you might get is a hot hit of the escaping alcohol and none of the aromas. Clarity is key. You need to see what you are drinking, its level of sheen, vibrancy and the graduation of colours. Only then can you decipher the age or ageing of your wine.
Why Different wine requires glasses from different shapes?
For each style and complexity of wine, there is a corresponding glass. Wine comes in four types; red, white, sparkling and fortified wine. We will consider Rosé a white wine in this context.
In an informal setting, like slopping down on your couch catching up on Netflix, any tumbler will do. However, should you be sampling wine for intricate examination, the correct stemware is a priceless consideration.
As mentioned above, white wines; largely due to their delicate floral or fruity aromas and the need to keep them chilled so as to capture that zesty acidity as long as possible, need to be in a glass with a small bowl and narrow mouth. Of course, touching the bowl is out of the question! You will counter all your effort to keep the chill and warm it with your hands.
Red wines are a little less fussy. A little. They require a wider bowl with a narrow mouth. Say you are sampling a robust wine with bold tannin, you will need to swirl that in order to encourage the oxygen molecules mingle with the wine and soften the tannin. The large bowl is necessary to increase surface area for light, purposeful oxidation.
Sparkling wines are attractive for their lush bubbles and soft mousse. Serve in a narrow glass with a narrow mouth. The escaping Co2 bubbles will edge out slower because there is less surface area for oxidation-which ends up making your prized Champagne taste flat. The fine mousse is also easier to see and keep on the edge of the glass.
Serving Port or Sherry? Fortified wines' glasses tend to be small with not-so-wide bowls and narrow mouths. These wines are highly potent, even with the strength of Hercules it would be hard to drink such high alcohol levels in normal wine glass servings.
Difference Between Crystal and Non-Leaded Glass.
Traditional Soda-lime glass contains about 50% of sand and no lead. The glass made this way are usually very hardy and durable. They are also quite thick and at times aesthetically unappealing.
Picture from Winefolly. Original Source: Crystal vs Glass When it Comes to Wine Glasses
For a long time Crystal glasses contained 24% lead, however, brands concious of their client's well being, such as Bohemia Crystal and Luigi Bromioli have come up with formulas that replace the lead with harmless Titanium for durability
Difference Between Machine Blows and Mouth Blown Glass
There are numerous, well identified differences between machine and hand blown glass. First of all is how they are made. Though both techniques are considered a blow-blow method; where the molten glass is blown severally into a mould to form its shape, the end results are often with stark differences.
Machine blown glass caters to the cost-effective and uses a mould that will produce a thin, often visible line across the glass. This is a clear marker of where the two pieces of blown glass mould were attached and cooled during manufacture. Able to produce many at a time, it can make smooth glasses but not addressing this line. Glasses made this way are thick, more durable and less likely to shatter.
Hand-blown glass is the result of one continuous portion of glass blown into a bubble inside a mould while being simultaneously turned around to smoothen the edges. Once a perfect shape is made, another piece of molten glass is attached to the stem and moulded into a suitable base. This technique is time consuming and at times requires about 10 if not one skilled blower working at each different stage of the production line.
The final hand blown piece is always unique from the next and goes through several inspection stages to finally be placed into a shipping box to a new home. Hand blown glasses will always be thinner, more delicate and graceful than machine blown ones.
The lighter weight, ease of balance, clarity and its thinness even around the bowl make hand blown glasses the preferred choice. Thin glasses will enhance your wine especially at the mouth of the glass where aromas will collect uninhibited by thick glasses. The are far easier to nose this way.
Importance on Stem, Glass without Stem
The stem is that little column of glass between the bowl and base. These are important to help hold the glass keeping your hands away from the bowl and reducing the chances that you might get carried away and warm the wine.
Also called Bohemia Crystal, this is a Czech Republican style of traditionally hand crafting glass using traditional methods but incorporating high quality innovative design. In the towns of Bohemia and Silesia, you will find many artisan glass studios and schools teaching foreign and local students this timeless art. Many towns in the Czech republic have their own glass museums showing works of art from as early at 1600s. Not suprising since the oldest glass making excavation is from the Northern Lusatain Mountains.
Bohemia is credited with discovering the use of Potash and Chalk yo produce un-Leaded glass. They are also world renowned at their skill in engraving and cutting.
Here are some of the world's best examples of exquisite craftmanship in crystal glassware.
Schott Zwiesel is a famed German producer of fine crystal glasses. This brands latest breakthrough is the patented Tritan technique for producing extra-strong crystalline stemware.
What we love: Everything! Tritan technique combines a mix of materials with tempering at vulnerable points to create the 'most resilient fine stemware in the world.' It is dishwasher safe, durable with brilliant clarity and ultra thin edges.
The Bottomline: The Simplify Home 2017 range is out of this world! Five classically shaped wine glasses that cater to each type of wine. They are elegant and simply made, a very Vogue addition to your home.
Orrefors. Is there anything the Swedens can't do? Orrefors has been producing glassware and art glass in crystal since 1898. At the glass mill in Småland, Orrefors skilled craftsmen work with some of Sweden's foremost designers to develop design, crafts and new technologies.
What we love: The lovely lady designer Erica Lagerbielke, Orrefors glass queen. Nobody else has designed so many and successful glassware for Orrefors. Among the successes are Intermezzo, Merlot and Difference, all of whom have received awards for their design. Erika designed the Riksdag and Government's gift to the Crown Princess Couple Victoria and Daniel.
Bottom line: The METROPOL is a modern series of crystal glass, with a drop of black colour, evoking a breathtaking stiletto captured in the clear glass. Self-sure elegance and sharp shape make Metropol a future design classic.
William Yeoward Crystal
William Yeoward Crystal established in 1995, through a chance meeting between William Yeoward and Timothy Jenkins, a third generation crystal designer and maker with a family owned crystal business, founded in 1901. They would quickly partner to see their shared passion of 18th and 19th century crystal peices on dining tables again. Now an award-winning Collection of Crystal and Glass stemware, decorative pieces and tabletop wares. William Yeoward peices are entirely made by hand using techniques and cuttings from the past.
What we love: The delicate Olympia Burgurndy and the excuisite shape of the Starr Coupe are just few examples on this brands timeless take on elegant design.
Bottom line: Olympia is a collection of specialist wine and cognac glasses for those who appreciate the difference that a correctly shaped glass can make to the enjoyment of wine and spirits, handmade for the discerning connoisseur
Rene Lalique's name and brand are seamless as a marker for French Art Nouveau decorative arts. He started as a fine jewelery designer in 1881 and soon became bolder and more explorative with his luxury crystal glassware line. His first works used the wax mould technique producing a unique glass each time with the one-time-only wax moulds. Currently celebrating their 130th anniversary, the brand has launched a collection using the swallow as a symbol of happiness and freedom.
What we love: The entire collection as well as the brand itself shows the heart of a true artist. Unique craftmanship of these gorgeous pieces will make any table breathtaking down to the ice buckets!
Bottom line: You need one...even if its just the little ornamental figurines or the ice buckets, Lalique's peices will speak to your soul much like sculptured or painted art. The 100 points glass range, a collaboration with Master Sommelier and wine critique James Suckling is a household staple.
Like nothing you have ever seen before, each Aspery peice is quite breathtaking. Their detailed animal head decanters will no doubt shock you just so.
What we like; Mouth blown using the Murano Reticello technique which is highly complicated and labour intensive results in unique peices with clear attention to detail in each one.
Bottom Line: The Murano Glass Champagne Flutes Asprey has collaborated with one of the oldest Murano glass manufacturers on this set of six mouth-blown champagne flutes.