Though a 99-cent glass from IKEA will certainly do the trick in an emergency, the truth is: Not all wine glasses are created equal. In fact, using the right wine glass will enhance the flavor, aroma, and overall experience of whatever you’re sipping, whether it’s that’s expensive bottle you’ve saved for years or your go-to cheap stuff.
“For instance, if you had a wine like a Chablis, which is the purest Chardonnay, you’d want to serve it in a smaller white wine glass,” says Rebecca Fineman, a master sommelier and co-owner of San Francisco restaurant Ungrafted. “Even though these wines are not that aromatic, they have a lot of interesting things to smell, which get lost if they’re poured into a big, bulbous wine glass. On the other hand, if you had a more aromatic grape, like a Pinot Noir, those aromas would be trapped in a little white wine glass, so you need a larger glass to allow it to breathe.”
Now, that doesn’t mean you have to buy different wine glasses for every varietal. While restaurants typically stock four types of glasses (a champagne flute, a white wine glass, a Burgundy glass, and a Bordeaux glass), casual wine drinkers—and even devoted oenophiles—can get by with just one for red and one for white, according to Fineman. To pick the best red wine glass for you, consider your drinking habits: “If you favor medium-bodied reds, like Pinot Noir, go for a Burgundy glass,” she says. “If you prefer something like Cabernet or Zinfandel, opt for a Bordeaux glass.” Even better? You don’t have to spend a fortune to get your hands on some of the best ones out there. Case in point: The wine glass Fineman uses most often, which is included below, costs under $10.
Ahead, we asked sommeliers, wine makers, and beverage directors to share the best wine glasses in the world, including an all-purpose (or universal) wine glass from Zalto, a unique novelty cup available on Amazon (spoiler alert: it fits an entire bottle), a shatterproof pick perfect for outdoor entertaining, some crystal ones for when you’re feeling fancy-schmancy, and several options from some of the best brands of wine glasses, like Riedel or Schott Zwiesel.
Stemless Glasses, Set of 4
“For those who like stemless wine glasses, this is the brand to choose. Made from shatterproof high-quality glass, these are ergonomically designed to sit comfortably in your hand and hold up to 15 ounces of wine. The shape ensures that the the taste of the wine retains its full flavor,” says Vipin Laboo, Marketing Director with Advanced Mixology.
Denk’ Art Universal Glass
“Handmade, light as a feather, and stunningly elegant, they make everyday wines taste more special and indulgent wines display their full potential. With their near weightlessness, Zaltos are far and away the best glass I have found to make a wine’s texture shine. While the price tag might not make them an everyday wine glass, they are perfect for a special occasion or splurge bottle,” says Jen Fields, wine director for Alden & Harlow, Waypoint, and Longfellow Bar.
Spiegelau Style Burgundy, Set of 4
Theresa Heredia, wine maker for Gary Farrell Winery, calls these her “everyday drinking glasses,” because they’re beautiful, affordable, and have a perfectly-shaped bowl.
Bordeaux Grand Cru Wine Glass, Set of 2
If you’re looking for a splurge, Jörn Kleinhans, PhD, principal at The Sommelier Company, says “This is one of the greatest wine glasses on earth. It’s light, thin, large, exceptionally well balanced and super functional for advanced smelling and drinking.”
ZENOLOGY by Wine Enthusiast
“The glass is truly crystal clear allowing for the intense colors, and aromas, to emanate from the bowl. Plus, the thin lip offers a delicate feel on the mouth,” says Marshall Tilden III, vice president of sales at Wine Enthusiast Companies. And, if you’re prone to snapping stems, these are sturdier than most lightweight glasses, he adds.
Forte White Wine Glasses, Set of 6
“My husband (and business partner) is also a sommelier, so we are fairly well stocked at our house,” says Rebecca Fineman, a master sommelier and co-owner of San Francisco restaurant Ungrafted. “But despite having an abundance of wine glasses, we find ourselves drinking almost everything out of a white wine glass, mostly because it’s smaller and it fits in the dishwasher a lot easier. Our favorite is Schott Zweisel’s basic white wine glass. It holds 9 ounces, which is fairly small, but we drink a lot of Champagne and Chablis at home, and it’s the perfect glass for that. Plus, it’s affordable. These are under $10 per stem, so if one breaks we aren’t too disappointed.”
O Wine Tumbler, Set of 4
“I pretty much drink everything out of these—including beer and juice. They’re simple, yet classic, and extremely durable,” says Danielle Ayer, co-owner, general manager, and wine director of Talulla. “I hate to say it,” she adds, “but any wine works in this glass, from a light bodied white or rosé to a robust red, or even something sparkling!” Bonus: They fit nicely in the dishwasher.
Clear XL Wine Glass
While certainly more of a novelty, if you’re looking for a gag gift or… just don’t like having to reach for the wine every time you need a refill, this glass holds an entire bottle.
Denk’Art Burgundy Wine Glass, Set of 2
For something truly special, Heredia calls these sophisticated glasses her “absolute favorite ever.” Why? “The hand-blown, super thin, lightweight crystal bowl just feels right in the hand.” Plus, the stem is thin and delicate, so the focus is all on the wine in the glass, she explains.
Ouverture Red Wine Glasses, Set of 2
“Regardless of what you’re drinking, this thin glass is the perfect blend of form, function, durability, and value. And the best part is, it’s dishwasher-safe,” says Dominick Purnomo, wine director and co-owner of Yono’s and dp An American Brasserie.