The Best Wine Glasses Will Make Your Vino Taste More Expensive
We didn’t raid your parent’s cabinet for these picks.
If you’re serious about drinking wine—good wine, not the glorified juice your grandparents love—a set of the best wine glasses should be on your shelves (if not on your shopping wishlist). But whether you’re hunting high and low for best-in-class investment stemware to add to your registry or just some solid, budget-friendly starter glasses to share with your hamfisted roommates, there are levels to the wine glasses at your disposal.
To get to the bottom of the absolute best glasses to sip from, we spoke to some people who know wine best: namely, André Mac, expert sommelier designer, and winemaker; Grant Reynolds, co-founder of Parcelle; Cerise Zelenetz, the owner of Cherry on Top wine bar in Brooklyn, New York; Jen Pelka, cofounder of Une Femme Wines; and John McCarroll, co-host of wine podcast and zine Disgorgeous.
The Best Wine Glasses Shop Guide
For this investigation of the best wine glasses, we tapped experts for picks on the best-in-class investment stemware and budget-friendly glasses worth buying. If you want to skip to the good part, here are their selects for easy browsing:
- The Best Wine Glass for Most Serious Vino Drinkers: Zalto Universal, $75
- The Best Budget Wine Glass: Riedel Zinfandel, $79 for a pair
- The Best Splurge-y Wine Glass: Josephinenhütte Josephine No.3, $185 for a pair
- The Best Textured Wine Glass: LSA Wicker, $48 for a pair
- The Best Stemless Wine Glass: Bormioli Rocco, $55 for a set of 12
- The Best Vintage Wine Glass: 1980s Green-Stemmed Model, $54
How to Shop for Wine Glasses
Any vessel can be a wine glass in theory, according to McCarroll, who takes a rather laid-back approach to sipping. “In my house, I like to use AP glasses, or all-purpose glasses,” says McCarroll. “Some glasses are better than others, but realistically, the best wine glasses are ones that get out of the way and get you into the wine.” He suggests looking for little tasters, and glasses that don’t scream, “I contain wine! Nectar of the gods!” but rather imply, “Yeah, I’ll keep your wine safe.”
On that note: Don’t feel like you need a different glass shape for specific types of wine, he adds. “Burgundy balloons are fun if you’re at a place for burgundy balloons,” says McCarroll. “But breaking those out in your house is kind of like putting on a Miles Davis record when you have a first date coming over.” In other words, it can be overkill if you’re just having a chill night in. And if that’s your vibe, and you want to feel fancy with every pour, it’s totally up to you.
Generally speaking, though, a traditional universal wine glass with a stem will help keep your fresh-from-the-fridge wine at its coolest, and a medium-sized option should fit a generous pour. Some will be dishwasher-friendly, while others are best delicately soaping up in the sink. If weight matters to you, seek out a glass that’s lighter in the hand (but beware of how quickly whisper-thin glassware can break).
The silhouette can distinguish some wine glasses a notch or two above the rest, too. The top recommendations on this list are Zalto glasses, designed by sixth generation Austrian glass artist Kurt Josef Zalto, which claim to boost the taste and smell of your wine based on how the angles of their glasses (24 degrees, 48 degrees, and 72 degrees) align with the tilt of the earth. That may all sound a bit heady to you, but their sterling reputation within the wine community speaks for itself.
They start at about $70 a pop, but you don’t need to spend a ton to secure yourself some solid wine glasses that’ll do the basics of aerating your wine and elevating its taste from funky to certified fresh. Without further ado, the best wine glasses for every kind of wine drinker, no matter whether you’re drawn to glasses that will cater to a variety of liquids, or want only the finest crystal.
The Best Wine Glass for Most Serious Vino Drinkers: Zalto Universal
These Austrian-made glasses from Zalto have become the industry standard for many an upscale wine bar and restaurant, and widely beloved by serious wine enthusiasts. The difference between a Zalto and any other wine glass is “like the difference between eating off of a paper towel vs. ceramic,” says Reynolds.
The Zalto is nearly paper thin, and so light that lifting one up—even when it’s holding a generous pour of gamay—feels like lifting the most delicate of angel wings to the heavens. It will also, according to some people who know a thing or two about wine, make your wine smell and taste better, for the aforementioned reasons. And that lightness makes the “oh yeah, I’m swirling wine because I know what I’m doing” move much smoother.
The Zalto comes in a variety of shapes that cater to different types of wine, but you can feel good going with the universal glass, which is designed to accommodate red wine, white wine, orange wine, and everything in between. It’s sleek and thoughtfully angled like a midcentury chair, and yes, it works for sparkling wine, too. And the last thing about the Zalto: While you should take some extra care to not drop them (yes, they are delicate, and yes, they are expensive to replace), they are blessedly dishwasher-safe. This being said, they are thin and they certainly can break. Handle these with extra caution to keep accidents at bay—because that’s no way to kick off a happy hour.
The Best Budget Wine Glass: Riedel Zinfandel
If you’re still at the “my-last-remaining-wine-glass-got-knocked-over-during-an-X-Box-incident” stage of life, look to Riedel. They’re less than half the price as the Zalto Universal, while still offering a handsome silhouette and a solid reputation. “These are great, durable, professional glasses that look nice and get the job done,” says Pelka. While the line comes in a range of shapes, we’re partial to the Zinfandel glass for a still-sleek silhouette that keeps it from veering into goblet territory. And it’s affordable enough that you can stock up for a dinner party—without ever warning your guests to be very, very careful with their glasses.
The Best Splurge-y Wine Glass: Josephinen Hütte Josephine No.3
Mac, a real triple threat in the industry, declares this Josephine No. 3 “the most perfect wine glass, from its feathery touch to its unique aroma ring.” These handmade, mouth-blown glasses by the very same Zalto (who rebranded with a line of wine glasses under the name Josephinenhütte in 2019), “stand in a league of their own,” according to him, bearing a similar lightweight feel and elegance to the original Zalto line. We’re especially partial to the slightly bowed-out shape of the bowl—it somehow makes the whole act of drinking a bit lighthearted.
The Best Textured Wine Glass: LSA Wicker
If you’re not married to the idea of investing in the exact set of wine glasses that one bar in Paris used that one time you visited, consider having a bit of fun with your pick. Zelenetz recommends these elegant sculptural, hand-blown ones. “The elegant, slim stem and uniquely textured glass bowl make up the perfect balance of creativity and sophistication,” she says. “The flat base of the bowl is also wonderfully geometric and fits well in more modern interiors.”
The Best Stemless Wine Glass: Bormioli Rocco
Some people might pooh-pooh the concept of drinking out of stemless wine glasses, but these bodega glasses from Bormiolio fall squarely in McCarroll’s all-purpose glass category so they do the trick. It’s likely you’ve seen similar designs (if not these very ones) in some of your favorite bars and restaurants. Plus, the stout shape and delicate blue hue is a lesson in how to give an inanimate object some major personality.
The Best Vintage Wine Glass: 1980s Green stemmed
There are enough vintage glasses out there to inspire an entire lifetime of Etsy scrolling. If you want something no one else has—or at least some that won’t be easily replicated without a little bit of research or resale shop hunting—look to trends of the past. Zelenetz says she leans toward antique and vintage home goods for their sense of history and nostalgia, but also designs that won’t take years of searching to track down. “I see these green stemmed sets in antique stores and vintage markets almost everywhere I go and wish I had a reason to collect them all,” she says. “I love the slightly fluted, Art Deco-reminiscent contour of the base, as well as the smaller bowl size.”
The glass size is an important thing to consider, especially if you’re a frequent host like Zelenetz. “I prefer wine glasses that aren’t too large for entertaining—when everyone brings different bottles, it’s nice for everyone to get a taste of each while still keeping glasses full.”
The Best Wine Decanters
Don’t spend all of your time thinking about glasses—there’s another important part of at-home wine drinking. “Everyone should have a decanter, they’re pretty useful,” says McCarroll. “I don’t really believe in a lot of gadgets, but a decanter is a great way to increase oxygen in the wine, which helps open it up and helps a drink a little bit easier—especially when it comes to younger red wines.” Again, there is an entire universe of decanters on the market, but there’s one important thing to consider as you sift through the options: Can you clean it? The thin, elegant decanters you see gracing wedding registries may seem cool until you try giving it a good scrub. “This is absolutely aging wine hipster bullshit, but I buy old science beakers,” McCarroll says. “They actually do the job really well, they’re cool, and they look like health potions in a video game, which gives me psychological pleasure.”
If you don’t want to serve guests out of, uh, a science beaker, you can’t go wrong with a classic angled mouth decanter that has room to aerate about 80 ounces of wine. This Crate & Barrel number is about half as expensive as some others out there, but of course you may want to dial it up with a swan decanter or something more sculptural for some visual interest.