No matter what wine you’re drinking, if it’s served in a great wine glass, it will usually taste better. Maybe that’s not the most verified science, but so many wine drinkers know it in their gut to be true.
But not all wine glasses are created equal. Not only do reds and whites do better in different glasses, not every person needs the same type of wine glass, depending on the drinking habits, preferred wine, and — let’s be honest — cabinet space.
So we spoke to some of the country’s top wine bars and wine-focused restaurants about the glasses they use most often (spoiler alert: It’s not just about getting the most expensive one). Here’s a practical guide to finding the glass out there for you, whether you’re frugal, clumsy, or just running out of kitchen space.
The best glass for… kitchens with minimal storage space
Bormioli Rocco Inalto Uno glass
If you can only buy one set, get wine glasses you can use for just about any kind of wine. These Bormioli Rocco glasses “are the best combination of visual appeal, durability, and flexibility in terms of accentuating as many types of wines as possible,” says Kyle Davidson, formerly beverage director and general manager of Elske in Chicago. Just don’t forget to buy a nice polishing cloth, he adds.
The best glass for… looking good without breaking the bank
Schott Zwiesel Pure white wine glass
For an elegant option that’s still affordable, Diane Gross of Cork Wine Bar in D.C. goes for the Schott Zwiesel Pure White Wine glasses. Sure, you could go even pricier and get professional, aroma-enhancing glasses, she says, but simple, well-made stems like these ones are the most beautiful for everyday use.
The best glass for… beer (that also works quite well for drinking wine)
Rastal Teku tulip glass
It may not be your first instinct to reach for a beer glass for drinking wine, but when Jhonel Faelnar, sommelier and wine director at Atomix and Atoboy in New York, is at home, he sips wine out of stemmed Teku beer glasses by German glassware company Rastal. “The shape of the bowl amplifies the aromatics just as well as any,” he says. “They’re also sturdy, compact, and easy to wash.”
The best glass for… clumsy friends
Schott Zwiesel Tritan glass
For Mary Kurth, the owner of Spoke Wine Bar in Boston, the most important attribute for a wine glass is durability. The Schott Zwiesel Tritan stemware collection, she says, “has perfectly thin crystal on the lip, is lightweight, and doesn’t chip or scratch.” Upgrade to a Tritan Forte to “allow for swirling without the fear of splashing on your neighbor,” she adds.
The best glass for… getting maximum aromatics out of your wine
Riedel Vinum Viognier/Chardonnay wine glass
Riedel’s Vinum line has a glass for every grape varietal, from syrah to chardonnay. Yoon Ha, wine director of Benu in San Francisco, endorses the whole collection, due to the stems’ ideal weight, balance, and most important, the rounded shape of the bowl, which she says “yields a broader spectrum of fruit aromas and suppresses the undesirable notes.”
The best glass for… Champagne-worthy occasions
Zalto Denk’Art Universal glass
Turns out you don’t need flutes. “If you want to ball out,” says Etinosa Emokpae, sommelier at Friday Saturday Sunday in Philadelphia, Zalto stemware is a worthwhile splurge. “These glasses really bring out the best in wine,” she says. “I particularly love them for Champagne. You can really pick up all those complex aromas from Champagne without losing the bubbles!” There’s a reason these glasses pop up in fine restaurants from coast to coast.
The best glass for… getting a party started
Jen Pelka of Une Femme Wines calls her Chambong — designed for rapidly shooting bubbly — “the ultimate party trick,” adding that “anyone who is hosting a good party should have some on hand.” There are now all sorts of Chambong knockoffs on the market, but Pelka says she’s been loyal to the original both at home and at the Riddler, her now-closed Champagne bar in San Francisco. “The Chambong team is constantly innovating on their product line, and they now even offer a 50-pack of their plastic Chambongs for parties,” she says.