Don't worry about choosing which glass for which wine, choose for the occasion.
I'm often asked which glasses are the best for wine, and my answer is: it depends on the occasion. Sure, the right shape will enhance your experience of the wine, but I don't buy into having numerous versions of glasses for different grape varieties and styles. (I'll make one exception later on in this post.) Ultimately it's the occasion that dictates the wine glass I choose. Factors like how many glasses are required, the location (outdoor picnic, or sit-down dinner party) and mood (delving into some serious bottles, a glitzy evening with your best gals, or just an easy going pizza and wine situation) are what I consider when choosing glassware.
I've used a number of brands and styles at home depending on all of the above, and have tried many more in restaurants and at trade tastings that are very good quality. Read on to hear my top four go-to glasses. Listed according to how often they are used.
My everyday wine-drinking glass is also the glass I use for my Masters of Wine exam studies, and my Mummy Wine Club tastings. It's the Spiegelau Authentis range –and I use the White Wine glass for everything! Sparkling, White, Rosé, Orange, Red, Dessert, Fortified.
That might seem strange, but as the 12-wine flights in the MW exams require students to use the same glass for all wines, I spent time researching which shape and style suited me best and landed on these. I wanted a classic shape that offered a wider base, which narrows at the top, and has a thin lip. The glasses are fairly light, the stem is elegant and comfortable to handle, yet sturdy enough! All very important for optimal and frequent tasting. And considering their heavy use (all the set up, packing up, traveling to and from study sessions) I haven't broken very many! But the replacement cost is not too scary, a set of 4 can usually be purchased for £30 on-line so there is zero stress if one gets broken.
For all the reasons listed above I decided to use these glasses for most of my Mummy Wine Club tasting events. They are elegant and versatile, and can easily handle all wine styles and and are dishwasher (top rack) safe. Pro tip - I put them on alone without detergent. The hot water usually does the job just fine! As you might guess, they are also my mid-week, casual wine glass of choice.
Before I discovered the Spiegelau glasses for my MW course, I wanted the very best option and invested in Zalto Universal. And let me confess, there's 100% stress when one of these breaks at £40 per glass! And even more so, when that happened during my stage one MW exam!
But they really are worth the money. To put it simply, after using a Zalto glass for a while, they make most other wine glasses feel like a chunky coffee mug. They are ultra-fine, ultra-light, and perfectly shaped. The beauty of a Zalto, is that it delivers the aromas in a very focused way, yet nearly disappears as you taste the wine itself because of how light and delicate the glass is.
I purchased 12 and used them for the first two years of my studies. I did pass the first stage (despite breaking a glass- for luck as they say?!- in the exam) but they were not ideal for carting around to study sessions. For starters, they are much too big. The extra 2cm in height, and 1cm more in width compared to the Spiegelau Authentis might not seem like much, but the capacity of 530ml over Spiegelau's 420ml should give you an idea on the size difference. The boxes they come in are bigger too, so they truly belong at home. And yet I don't dig them out on a daily basis. I save them for the special meals, dinners without the kids, the special bottles with fellow wine geek friends. That's when I truly appreciate them and there's also less chance of them getting casually smashed. They do claim to be 'highly durable' but I've broken too many to attest to that. But they are dish-washer safe, and in fact that is the safer way to clean them because a few of my breakages occurred during hand washing when too much pressure is applied to the stem, bowl, or rim of the glass. The best times I've enjoyed Zalto glasses are during professional tastings when I'm not having to clean or polish them.
I should add that although they make a separate glass for Champagne, I've used the Universal plenty of times and enjoyed the experience as it really opens up the aromas. More recently I started using the Burgundy glass for Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo and compared the same wine poured in a Universal, and the difference was significant! As mentioned above, I prefer to have one glass size for all wines, but have to admit that the wider base Burgundy glass offered far more complex aromas. Whether it's worth investing in 4, 6, 12 of these is a personal matter. I'll happily settle for 2 and use them on the special dinners for two with a top Pinot or a mature Barolo.
For your outdoor/go-anywhere/beach/picnic/small-kids-around wineglass needs, the best choice is govino. These are shatterproof, dishwasher safe, plastic glasses (BPA & BPS free polymer to be exact) and designed with an ergonomic thumb notch which makes them very comfortable and secure to hold.
When Mummy Wine Club first started in 2018 and I offered wine courses from home for fellow mums and their under one year olds were welcome, there was no doubt that the glasses we'd use were govino. Not being glass they are much safer with kids around, and easy to hold and put down without the stem. They are very well designed though, as the shape allows you to swirl and smell the wine and the thin material mimics the feel of a professional crystal wine glass.
I consider them essential over the summer period as they come on all picnics, beach trips, camping, and outdoor parties. My only gripe is not with the glass itself, but with the box they come in as a set of 4. It's a basic thin cardboard which doesn't live up to the amount of outdoor use they get. So I end up transporting them in a lunch box.
My final choice of glassware is a more recent discovery and is related to the long standing debate on what is the best glass for drinking Champagne, or any sparkling wine for that matter. Whether you like to use a flute, tulip shape coupe, a normal wine glass, or a vintage style saucer– the best Champagne glass is a bigger topic for another post.
However, if the ultimate goal is fun and a bit of glamour, and there's no need for analysis or serious study, then I am all for a vintage coupe! The Vintage Wine List has the most beautiful selection of handmade crystal Champagne coupes in six different designs.
I've gone for a mix of all six as they are so pretty and unique, and solves the problem of people forgetting which glass is theirs. I would not use these for my MW exams, but I would certainly like to celebrate afterward with them! Camilla who owns The Vintage List has kindly offered a discount for Mummy Wine Club, so just enter MWC15 at checkout and receive 15% off until the 17th December. It's normally £75 for set of 6, which is already a great price for the quality!
I hope this is a helpful guide to some of the best wine glass options to consider.
Besides wine accessories, wine glasses are a wonderful Christmas gift idea for wine lovers. If you are looking for more Wine Gift ideas, then check out the gift page for gift subscriptions, limited edition cases, gift certificates, special wines in the Bottle Shop!