There’s no shame in enjoying a glass of wine from a Mason jar, a plastic wineglass, or any other drinking glass you may have on hand. (We here at the Strategist are particularly fond of the Bormioli tumblers that make professionally tasteful person Joanna Goddard feel as if she’s sipping wine in Barcelona.) But it can be nice to have a set of proper wineglasses on hand, with a larger, bell-shaped bowl and a long, thin stem, especially if you’re investing in more expensive bottles and want to fully appreciate a wine’s aroma and taste — or just want to make the experience of drinking a glass of cheap wine feel more special.
That doesn’t mean you have to buy different wineglasses for every type of wine you may be drinking. There are plenty of high-quality universal wineglasses, including the cult-y Zalto, that will elevate your wine of choice, no matter the style or the price of the bottle. And to help you figure out which wineglasses are worth the splurge, we asked sommeliers and beverage directors to share their favorite wineglasses, from showstoppers made of crystal to the best cheap and durable options.
The Best Universal Glass Set
If you want a wineglass that won’t shatter in the sink, Jason White, the service and beverage director at Kichin in Brooklyn, highly recommends these Cabernet glasses. “The crystal is mixed with a trace amount of titanium, giving it great strength and feel,” he says.
The Best (Less Expensive) Universal Wineglass Set
If you’re balling on a budget, you can’t do much better than Libbey’s super-affordable line of wine goblets. “I don’t like it when a wineglass itself distracts from the wine-drinking experience,” says John Condon of French Louie in Brooklyn. “I think a glass needs to be functional first and everything else next. Libbey’s Vina line of wineglasses is very classically shaped and elegant but also reassuringly sturdy.”
The Best Splurge-Worthy Universal Wineglass Set
As for those who are just balling, Austrian wineglass purveyor Gabriel-Glas offers mouth-blown crystal stemware that is — get this — dishwasher safe. The company claims the glasses’ broad base and narrow opening deliver wine to the palate in a way that expresses even the most subtle flavors. “They are very light, elegant, and also not as large as most glasses in their category,” says Richard Anderson, the sommelier at Vaucluse. “ I find it’s great for everything from Champagne to Bordeaux.”
The Best (Single) Universal Wineglass
Wine columnist Marissa A. Ross once referred to the Austrian brand Zalto as “the Olympic gymnasts of wineglasses: graceful and well-balanced.” Indeed, these wine glasses are top of the line, which is why just one will cost you more than $60. “It’s extremely elegant, lightweight, and thin,” says Thomas Pastuszak, wine director at NoMad and founder of VINNY Wines. “All of that amounts to you experiencing the wine itself more than the physical glass as you smell and drink, and it works for every style of wine out there. If I had to pick just one glass to enjoy every single wine in my world, this would be it.”
The Best Universal Wineglass for White Wines
If you exclusively drink acid-forward whites, master sommelier June Rodil, a partner at Houston’s Goodnight Hospitality, recommends Sophienwald’s white-wine glasses, which feature a narrow mouth for less air contact, thus preserving the wine’s bright flavor. It’s also great for the accident prone among us. “It’s not cheap by any means but is less than a Zalto and has a thin, sleek frame with just a touch more angles, which I prefer for sheer aesthetics,” she says. “It also holds up well in a dishwasher — be it a commercial one in my restaurants or the one in my house.”
The Best Universal Wineglass for Red Wines
If you exclusively drink deep, earthy reds, your best best is Zalto’s massive Burgundy glass, which is just as delicate as the universal wineglass but with a decanterlike, bell-shaped design that lets the wine breathe. “Nothing beats drinking Burgundy out of their massive, ten-ounce red Burgundy glasses,” says bar consultant Frank Cisneros. “They’re a bit pricey, but perfect.”
The Best Double-Bend Universal Wineglass
These glasses may look normal at first glance, but peer a little closer and you’ll see small curves at the base and about halfway up the glass. “This design gives more aeration to the wine, leading to more enhanced aromas and taste,” says wine journalist and Black Wine Professionals founder Julia Coney. “They are gorgeous, but the best thing about them is they are dishwasher safe. It’s a game changer.”
The Best Extra-Large Universal Wineglasses
At 35 ounces, Riedel’s Vinum XL glass makes the Zalto Burgundy glass — and just about every other wineglass — look downright tiny. “I use these at any table buying a nice bottle of wine,” says Craft Hospitality Group beverage director Lucas Robinson. “The guests never cease to be amazed by these huge glasses.”
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