Stemware Buying Guide

Both beautiful and practical, stemware enhances the experience of drinking wine and other beverages by heightening the liquid's aroma and taste. By design, a glass with a stem allows you to hold it without your hand warming the wine and reduces unsightly fingerprints on the bowl.

Types of Stemware

Types of Stemware

Have you ever wondered why there are different types of wineglasses? Aficionados know that the right glass presents each wine at its best. From the size and shape of the bowl to the contour of its lip, the design specifics are worth learning about if you want to make wine, champagne, and other drinks a larger part of how you entertain. Beyond white or red wine, for example, stemware options depend on what varietal you drink. When selecting stemware, consider each wine's color, maturity, sweetness, and acidity.

Red Wine Glasses

Glasses for red wine vary primarily according to the age of the wine. All have a wide bowl to capture the wine's aromas -- its bouquet. Lighter, softer wines such as Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Burgundy benefit from a bowl that turns inward at the top to trap the fragrance. For Merlot, Bordeaux, and other robust varieties, look for a larger bowl and less-tapered rim to swirl the wine and direct its aroma to your nose. A wide bowl allows more exposure to air so the tannins in full-bodied and mature Cabernet Sauvignon can dissipate and soften. Body heat has little effect on red wine's flavors, so these glasses have shorter stems.

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White Wine Glasses

Most white wine is served chilled, so a smaller, narrower glass helps it stay cooler longer. All-purpose white wine glasses have a straight or slightly flared opening. For young and crisp whites, this directs the wine to sweet-sensitive taste buds at the tip of the tongue. For "rounder" mature white wines, a larger bowl and straight lip help develop complex aromas and send them and the wine to the sides and back of your tongue.

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Sparkling Wine Glasses

Like elongated white wine glasses, sparkling wine glasses (also known as champagne flutes) have a long stem that keeps the heat from your hand from warming the champagne. A slightly shorter demi-flute shows off the bubbles and delicate aromas of young sparkling wines. A slender, standard-height flute encourages mature champagne bubbles to rise magically to a tapered mouth.

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Dessert Wine Glasses

Because dessert wines and fortified wines such as sherry and port are sweeter and have higher alcohol content than other wines, they are best sipped from a slightly smaller glass that tapers in to enhance the intense aromas.

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Wine Enthusiast
$32.22

These are the world's most break-resistant wine glasses. Super-strong, lightweight magnesium is fused with European crystal to for...m the most durable Port glasses in the world. Fusion Port Glasses are also scientifically shaped to enhance the taste and... read more

Riedel
$95.99

Indulge in the perfect glass of wine with this set of four port wine glasses. Constructed of leaded crystal, these glasses highlig...ht the rich fruit and sweetness characteristic of the recommended Port or Sherry. Introduced in 1986, Vinum became the... read more

Brandy Snifters

When savoring cognac or brandy, you actually want the heat from your hand to warm the liquid. Snifters sport a very short stem and a wide bowl that welcomes air to soften the brandy's harsh notes and enhance its caramel flavors.

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B By Brandie
$37.99

Create a mesmerizing tablescape with the elegant Duke Teacup from B by Brandie. It uses simple lines to create a dramatic pattern ...against white bone china that brings a bold touch to a modern table. read more

B by Brandie
$22.00 $20.00

The beautiful bold lattice pattern of our most popular Fine Porcelain Collection instantly catches eyes and turns heads.

B by Brandie
$16.00 $10.00

This beautiful bold lattice pattern that is simple yet complex enough to turn heads at any event or gathering.

Purchase Considerations

Purchase Considerations

The type of stemware you decide to buy should involve more than the variety of styles and shapes. Think about how you plan to use the stemware -- for everyday family dining or for entertaining wine connoisseurs (or perhaps some of both). That analysis will suggest how much you should spend.

Appearance

If your stemware will be used for entertaining, buy clear glass. Even before smelling or tasting fine wine, appreciating it begins with the distinctive color, so you don't want to disguise or distort it.

Glass Type

Do you want delicate blown glass or heavier lead crystal? Experts believe microscopically rougher crystal helps wine to breathe more than regular glass when wine is swirled in the bowl. Lead-free crystal is available, but most fine crystal stemware contains some lead. Hand-wash crystal stemware to avoid pitting from harsh dishwasher detergents. Return brandy or other liquor to its own bottle instead of storing it in a lead-crystal decanter.

Cost

Evaluate your lifestyle when deciding how much and what type of stemware to buy. If you appreciate a glass of wine with dinner but don't consider yourself an expert, a basic selection of stemware for red, white, and sparkling wines may be all you need. However, if you're a budding collector of fine wines, a more extensive set of stemware types and sizes is an investment you'll enjoy for years. Upgrading to crystal stemware also adds to the cost.

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