November 1, 2018

Glassware choices – what about stemless & other questions…


The Finer Choices

After the decision has been made as to what shape of wine glass you might be interested in. There are a few more choices left to make.  Do you go stem or stem-less, what the wine glass is made of and whether there is a design on the bowl or thickness of the glass? …..

Stem vs stem-less

How tall the stem of the glass is or what volume the glass holds, is purely up to you and your personal style.  Over the past decade or so, stem-less wineglasses have grown enormously in popularity due to their style, ease of use and flexibility.  You can now get stem-less sparkling wine glasses, so there seems to be a glass for every style of wine. 

There is some debate about just how much your fingertips change the temperature of the glass, thus the wine, but this does depend on how you hold your glass and obviously, on where you leave your glass between sips.

I have seen how some of these glasses will fit nicely into a small drinks tub filled with water, ice and your bottle of wine. A pretty neat idea. But if you leave your wine on a hot table, or in the palm of your hand, or on the warm ground, it is likely that the glass will start to heat up.

You also need to think of how clean the glass will stay if your guests are going to use the same glass throughout a meal. An advantage of these glasses is that they fit into the dishwasher, are easy to store, and are excellent for using as general purpose glasses – G&T anyone?

Lead crystal vs glass vs other types of ‘glass’

These are great for theme nights and for watching ‘Vikings’ or ‘GoT’, both the thickness of the bowl and material the bowl is made out of, impacts on overall enjoyment of the wine.

The main component of any glass or crystal is silica orsand.  Glass becomes ‘crystal’ when metal oxides are added to give the glass various properties depending on the metal and the end use.   ‘Lead crystal’ can contain up to 33% of lead oxide which has a production benefit of making it easier to decorate or ‘cut’.

The significance to the drinker is that crystal has better clarity and shine than glass but it lacks the robustness of glass. Many people will keep their crystal glassware for occasional use and use glass for everyday occasions for this reason. Plastic wine ‘glasses’ are great for outdoor occasions but the wine may react with these glasses so they are not recommended for finer drinking occasions. 

Crystal has a textured surface when compared to a plastic or even a polycarbonate ‘glass’ which is moulded and smooth.  This texture can increase the amount of air that gets pushed into the wine and has both an invigorating effect to aromas and flavours while having a smoothing effect of the tannins.

The thickness of the glass, well, ultimately the thickness of the rim of the bowl, can also have an effect on how the wine is delivered into the mouth.


Being able to see the wine and its colour does enhance the enjoyment of the wine. This is also why a clean and undecorated bowl is as practical as it is elegant.  Streaks, cloudiness, fingerprints and refractions from decorative embellishments, particularly those glasses that are cut glass or crystal, can make the wine seem visually faulty. 

I also find that no matter how careful you are, putting glassware into the dishwasher can leave scratches and discolouration. Many detergents will etch the surface of your glasses. I have witnessed a set of antique cut crystal goblets through to cheap and cheerful tumblers be destroyed by the dishwasher to never trust anything I need to keep pristine in it.

A stem also assists in keeping those fingerprints off the bowl while in use.


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