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You Don’t Need to Spend More Than $16 on Wine Glasses

Budget-friendly picks from four top sommeliers

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A wine glass on a cream and orange background
Viv All Purpose Big Wine Glass
Crate & Barrel

Much like anniversary gifts and phone plans, buying wine glasses for your home can be an intimidating and exhausting process. To stem or not to stem? Should it be dishwasher safe or will you actually commit to hand-washing delicate glass (repeat: glass!) after every use? How many wine glasses can you actually fit in your apartment? And how much damage will this do to your bank account?

Just about every wine glass best-of list will point you to the beloved Zalto Denk’Art Universal Glass, which costs $60 per glass. You might have also seen a pair of sleek glasses from the Riedel Veritas line, sold as a set of two for around $51, pop up on a list of recommended wine glasses. These are all well and good, if you have the cash to spare, but you can own a good wine glass that doesn’t set you back a rent check or transit pass. In fact, according to some sommeliers, you don’t need to pay more than $16 for a wine glass that checks all the boxes.

Whether you’re a longtime wine connoisseur or just beginning to develop a love for the grape, there are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for new glassware. For starters, you want a wine glass that’s on the thinner side. “The glass affects the taste in your mouth,” says Annie Shi, sommelier at King in New York City. “You don’t want to notice that it’s there, you just want it to be the vessel that carries the wine to you.” Adds Victoria James, sommelier at Korean steakhouse Cote in Manhattan, “A good wine glass is one that makes the drinker feel good, as in, it should be functional and not get in the way of the wine.”

Durability is also important. “I will not buy wine glasses that I can’t put in the dishwasher because life is too short to hand-wash all your glassware,” says Shi, who notes that King also operates by this rule.

For 2019 Eater Young Gun Kae Whalen, beverage director at Kismet in Los Angeles, a good wine drinking experience means leaving all the noise and hassle behind — and that applies to the glassware itself. “Generally, I look for glasses that I don’t need to be precious about — for the restaurant, especially. I like drinking to feel casual and approachable, and glasses can set that up.”

With these glass recommendations, you can save your money for the wine, drink that bottle you so very deserve, and be thankful for the invention of the dishwasher.

Wine glass holding red wine.

For when you just need to buy one

  • $5

Prices taken at time of publishing.

Commitment-phobes (of any kind), Crate and Barrel’s got your back. Available as singles, the Viv glasses are versatile, generously sized, and dishwasher safe. And if you break one, you can walk into the store and, well, replace just that one glass. “Sometimes, wine glasses only seem expensive because you’re forced to purchase six to eight at a time, when really, you don’t need that many in your tiny studio,” says Shi.

Stemless wine glass on a white background.

For fans of stemless glasses

  • $77

Prices taken at time of publishing.

“I like this glass in particular because it’s no fuss, no stem, just easy to use at home when you want to keep things more casual,” says Eater Young Gun (’18) and Philly-based sommelier Kaitlyn Caruke of the stemless wine-whiskey glasses from Zwilling J.A. Henkels. “The bowl of the glass is also really nice and works well for all wines. It’s a bit larger, almost like a standard Burgundy glass, so you’re still getting all the nuances of the wine. Although it’s stemless, it doesn’t compromise aromatics, which some smaller or bulkier glasses can do.” (Listed price is for six)

For when you want to add some custom flair

  • $8

Prices taken at time of publishing.

At home, Kismet’s Whalen owns a mix of thrifted glasses from Goodwill and tasting glasses acquired from various wine fairs. “I think it’s a little unnecessary to shell out for expensive glasses,” they say. If you pop by the LA restaurant, you might notice some colorful new additions: These Rioja custom wine glasses can come in six different stem shades and can be customized for special occasions.

Wine glass on a white background.

For sophistication at a reasonable price

  • $31

Prices taken at time of publishing.

Elegance does not have to cost a fortune. Sold as a pair, Nudeglass’ vintage Bordeaux glasses (and the slightly wider Bourgogne glasses) allow the wine to breathe, something that’s essential to the drinking experience. “They feel really nice,” says Shi. “The extreme shapes, long stems, and shallow bowls make a really gorgeous [glass].” (Price for a set of two)

Stout glass.

For a wine glass that’s not really a wine glass

  • $19

Prices taken at time of publishing.

If you’d rather skip the traditional stem and bowl altogether, follow the philosophy of Cote’s James, who absolutely adores Duralex’s Picardie tumblers. “Channel your inner Provencal picnic spirit, and make sipping a breeze,” she says. “Stable and reliable, this is my vehicle for a tipple at the end of a long work day. Perfect for brasserie style wines… the easier to drink, the better.” (Price for a set of six.)