Giveaway! The Stemware Edition!

Vinted on May 25, 2009 binned in giveaways

Giveaways are back!  But despite the title, I’m not giving away stemware!  Whoops!

Actually, I’m giving away five (5) – count ‘em, five – copies of the latest way-cool Putumayo world music CD release Italia, which is a collection of songs recorded by contemporary Italian singer-songwriters.  A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Italia will be donated to the Italian-founded organization EMERGENCY, which provides medical/surgical treatment to worldwide civilian victims of war, landmines and poverty.

None of this has anything directly to do with stemware, except for the fact that I wanted to give away these promo copies of Italia, and I’ve been itching to write about wine stemware, so yet another bizarre 1WineDude combination has been born. Sorry!

Anyway, if YOU want to win one of the five giveaway copies of Italia, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post telling us about what stemware you use to drink your wine, and why.  Using a secret process that involves my dog, I will randomly select five winners from the comments.  It could be YOU!…

My curiosity was whetted recently when a few way-cool folks on twitter shouted out what they were using to temporarily hold their wine in between its delivery from the bottle to their mouths (the hashtag is kind of a long story… just go with it…).

I’ll get things started here by telling you about my take on stemware, and what stemware I happen to use (and why).

My take on stemware

When it comes to wine, stemware does matter; just not as much as the stemware companies would like you to believe.  If you really want to taste a wine and not just drink it, you need a clear, unadorned tulip-shaped glass with a relatively thin rim.  It can be used for red or white wine, the important thing is the tulip shape, which a) allows some room for the wine to get air in your glass when filled properly, and b) focuses the aromas towards your nose by tapering at the top (this also provides the ancillary but important benefit of allowing you to swirl the wine with less chance of spilling it all over your pants).  That’s the most that most people ever need to know about wine stemware.

If you’re willing in terms of time and spare cash, things can get exponentially complicated from there.  But it’s certainly not necessary in terms of enjoying wine everyday.  In fact, you can get tulip-shaped glasses at many locations in the U.S. and if they’re relatively cheap, even better since you won’t sweat it when you break some of them (and you will).

My gear

I’m one of those people who like to make my passions complicated, so I do have various pieces of wine stemware (including some without stems… which I’m still going to call “stemware” because I don’t feel like typing “stemware-that-doesn’t-have-a-stem”).

I like Riedel stemware for my wine-drinking purposes (I’m not affiliated with them in any way, though if they’re reading and want to send me lots of free stemware I’m willing to at least discuss it).  Just a bit of warning: their website is difficult to navigate (at best).  Anyway, they have some interesting cheaper options, interesting ultra-expensive options, and just about anything in between (in fact, they probably have too many offerings and their product lines are just about as confusing as their website).

The Riedel sweet-spot for me in terms of price / quality is the Vinum series – though at an average of $25 a stem, they are not cheap; but they look good and aren’t ornate. I use the tulip-shaped Bordeaux glasses for reds, and the slightly smaller but similarly shaped Chablis glasses for whites, regardless of the variety, and they work just fine for us.  We also have a few of the “O” stemless series, one of which is a wider-bowled shape for drinking Chardonnay, but they don’t get too much use at my pad.

I have two exceptions to the “simple tulip-shaped glass” rule.  One is a very expensive exception – we have two of Riedel’s top-of-the-line Sommelier series Burgundy glasses.  These are specially shaped (according to Riedel) to enhance the flavor and balance of really good Burgundy / Pinot Noir, and they run about $125 a stem (se inset pic).  I can confirm from several personal experiments drinking Pinot Noir wines from this and other glasses side-by-side that they really do enhance the flavor and balance of Pinot Noir wine.  They just don’t do it cheaply.

The other is for dessert wines.  Typically, a dessert wine pour is smaller than a normal glass of dry or semi-dry wine, and at the risk of sounding like a total dork, I find that the glass really needs to tapper more sharply to concentrate the aromas of the stickies.  Anyway, I ponied up for two Riedel Vinum Extreme Icewine/Dessert glasses to see if they’ll do the trick – I’ve not tried them yet so will probably do that and report on the results in the comments (I am ineligible of course for winning one of the copies of Italia…).

So what stemware are YOU using?  Shout ‘em out in the comments!







  • Robert Dwyer

    I like 2 lines from Riedel. The first is the "Wine" series because they have a nice shape, a large bowl size, cost about $12 per, and don't contain lead. The second is the Riedel Restaurant series (model # 44600). They cost around $10 per, they're elegantly styled, and relatively resilient without being heavy. They too are lead-free. The only catch with the Restaurant series is that they're not supposed to be sold retail.


  • Brian

    We are Riedel stemware fans. I use the Bordeaux stemware for my reds, and use a stemless white wine glass from IKEA for my whites. At the end of the day, it's all about the reds.

  • Travis Compton

    We use Riedel. We like the fact that they are light weight and that the rim is smooth. Great glasses we both stem and stemless glasses.

  • Eagles Nest Winery

    I don't need the CD but here my two cents. I'm also NOT comfortable holding a prized Riedel tasting glass, and a wine thief, at the top of a ladder when conducting barrel sampling. I do appreciate value added of fine glassware. We purchase/use non-branded but quality stemware from industry imprint companies for our winery logo stemware that adhere to your basic guidelines: clear, unadorned tulip-shaped glass with a relatively thin rim – and for the sensory reasons you outline. Seems that wine glasses at gatherings regularly fall victim to gravity induced losses and we'd be reluctant to shell out $100 plus for a admittedly very fine piece of stemware only to have a guest break one.

  • g dustin

    Riedel is used daily at our shop for wine tasting and also is used at home. The crystal is important for proper aeration. AND stem only! I now use the stem less at home as water glasses.

  • Tracy

    Waterford – Mondavi Series Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne glasses then I also have stemless white wine glasses from Ross's and Crystal Port Glasses from Wine Enthusiests I have 8 glasses of each

  • Willybuoy

    We prefer whatever is available at Marshalls as long as they narrow towards the rim, are unadorned and more on the thin side than not. Marshalls wine glasses significantly enhance the taste of wine because…they are cheap and leave me with more money to spend on wine. Methinks that wine tasting better in expensive glass is more psychology than science but who knows.
    ____Elegant crystal__The wine knows no difference__Jelly jar will do

  • Dirty

    I like Riedels, like I kids and pets (I like other peoples).

    I have a mixed bag of Vinums, but mostly used Spiegelau (which are owned by Riedel). The basic shapes (Burg, BDX, white, montrachet) seem to fit my bill.

    I love the Sommelier Burg glasses (lots of places selling them for about $99), but I can by a ton of wine for the price of 2, and they seem to show up via stemware magic whenever I need one.

    I am not a fan of stemless… fad vs function

  • Richard

    At home I use Vinum series Riedels for the wines I feel deserve them, Bordeaux for all reds except Pinot Noir, Burgundy for the Pinots, and the Chablis/Chardonnay for the whites. For everyday simpler wines I use a simple Luminarc, no lead, red wine glass. A good workhorse of a glass. (4-5 bucks per stem, I have at least 30 of these for parties)

    On the subject of does the glass really change the wine, I have a brief anecdote to share. While eating at a restaurant a few years back with a friend, also in the wine trade, we shared our thoughts on the wine we were drinking, a mid-range Rasteau. Our descriptions of the nose were so far apart we traded glasses. Sure enough, after smelling the wine out of the other person's glass we described almost exactly the bouquet the other person had described. After an inspection of the two glasses, which looked identical initially, we realized they were not the same. They were both Riedels. The only difference was at the mouth. My glass tapered in just a bit more than his which hardly tapered at all. Regardless, his glass made the wine smell and taste more expressive. Better. The waiter was kind enough to bring me the other type glass. A happy ending. Cheers!

  • Heather S

    I have no idea what their name is but I use glasses I bought from World Market a few years back. They're not expensive of fancy but the feel great in your hand and do the job!

  • Arthur

    Hi Joe

    I'll pass on the drawing.

    While I see the benefit of different bowl sizes and shapes in accentuating certain elements of the aromatic character of different wines, I think having a glass for every variety form every region in the world is a bit much.

    Since most people who buy wine use the same glass for all wines they drink (and its probably and Anchor Hocking or a Mikasa) I kept it simple when setting up my tasting selection: I use the Riedel glasses available at Target: I have a 4-piece set of each: white, red, pinot, dessert and sparkling. At $25-$35 a box of four, this is easy to maintain and replace broken glasses.

    Interesting that only Riedel is getting mention here – which I suppose is testimony to their dominance of the marketplace. I recently compared some nice stems from Stolzle. I am not shilling for the company here, but their lineup offers great design and some better technological features than Riedel – at 1/4 of the cost of a Riedel stem.

  • CDonatiello

    At home I have Riedel, and have for about 12 years. I have always enjoyed them, tough cleaning any glasses is a pain.

    At the winery we use Stozle. Stozle has great shapes, are very sturdy, and affordable (we buy a few hundred each year). Here's what another blogger said about the glasses:

    Last week at the Nantucket Wine Festival I did a seminar with Bottega del Vino glasses ( ). It was the first time I looked at them with a critical eye ( drinking at thier restaurant in Verona after vinaitaly does not count). I was very impresses with these glasses, and I'm considering them for my home as well.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks – hadn't heard of Bottega but the glasses look *stunning*.

  • 1WineDude

    Wow – Riedel is showing strong… wonder if I should buy some stock…

  • Craigk8

    Honestly, most of my glasses are cheap and replaceable. One set of 6 for reds is from Target, another set of 6 for whites is from there too. They're beautifully easy to replace whenever somebody breaks one (and it happens a lot), and they work well enough for big groups of people. Plus, nobody in my house really minds when they get red in a white glass or vice versa. It's still wine!

    There is one set of 4 red glasses that I keep for special occasions. They're from Argentina, hand blown by a family up in Mendoza, and hold a little under 200ml comfortably. Beautiful glasses, and if I ever find out the producer, I'm buying a complete set.

  • Erin Maher

    I use the riedel restaurant series. I use the cab and white glasses equally, and sometimes the pinot.

  • 1WineDude

    Alright folks – I know that the Riedel Restaurant series is somehow on the DL, but let's hear how you got your hands on those!

  • rjh

    three different wine glasses, depending on the situation. (1) longaberger titanium wine glasses – supposedly unbreakable, although i've managed to break one; (2) venetian style wine tumblers from napa style; and (3) various riedel glasses, depending on the wine being poured.

  • joeshico

    HI Joe, I never been a proponent of proper stemware for any wine. Although, when having guest over I use a generic red wine or white wine glass. My good stemware is Mikasa and Waterford. Neither is ever used. My every day glasses were purchased at the $DOLLAR$ Store and my dinner ware was given to us as a Wedding gift in 1971. Don't know who made
    them, but are probably a mid-range price stemware considering who the gift was from.

  • NicoRiesling

    I have too many glasses. Usually they are more based on the occasion than on the wine:

    – Winter inside casual: Riedel Chardonnay
    – Summer inside casual: Riedel "O" Sauv Blanc
    – Winter fancy: Riedel Bordeaux or Burgundy (only for fancy occasion because they are too big to wash everyday)
    – Summer patio: Plastic glass, looks like the "O", my wife found them online – great find btw
    – Sparkling: Riedel Sparkling
    – Halloween walk around the neighborood with kids: tumblers


  • Mary Ann

    I too use a nice quality but affordable Luminarc stemmed glass for my first glass from a bottle – better to swirl, sniff & slurp. Use these for company too. Then I use stemless for the rest of the bottle – comfy. I also have plastic stemless for the summer patio. Wish List – yes, Vinum, 2 or 3 styles. But after reading the comments, might be a good idea to research a few others too. Not likely to be buying in the immediate future.

  • Tim

    The wife breaks too many glasses for me to invest in anything good. She's not that drunk, nor is she throwing them at me, just a tad clumsy with them. I buy nice, big Bordeaux style glasses from Crate & Barrel for about $3 a pop (and I buy 4 new ones every 3 months or so).

  • Matt.mmwine

    Some great comments going. Good Job, Joe!

    I have a HOST of different types of glassware. I have everything from Spiegelau Champagne Saucers and a pair of vintage 1940s unknown maker saucers to hand painted and hand blown glasses given to Robin for her birthday, to Riedel O's (full set) to Riedel Vinium.

    For everyday casual drinking I prefer using the O glasses. I am sorry, but I disagree that a stemless glass significantly changes the flavor OR temp of the wine. First, I make smaller pours, thus it doesnt sit in the glass that long and second, don't hold the glass, set it down.

    Robin LOVES her stemmed Riedel glasses. However, I just purchased 8 "white wine" and 8 "red wine" glasses for $4 a glass from that home goods store that starts with Bed and ends with Beyond, and put them on our wine glass rack next to the Riedel glasses. She takes them 50% of the time, and while heavier and thicker, the wine tastes as good.

    Glasses are as much about the romanticism of wine as are corks. While I believe that a fine crystal glass may enhance your experience with wine, thus influencing your taste and sensation, I dont believe they necessary CHANGE the taste of the wine. Many-a-bottle of wine has been drank via Mason Jars … and I am sure they all had a good time with wine ;)

  • TheConsigliere

    I chimed in a bit on this topic a while back on Twitter. So this may be a repeat for you, Joe. Here is my two cents again. In our wine tasting room we use the Riedel O Cabernet/Merlot Restaurant Series. Like other people have posted they are lead free so we can wash them. They also are a bit stronger and don't break as easily as the crystal. We have had people drop them on concrete floor and they actually bounce back with out breaking. They aren't industructible but stand up will to wear. They are perfect for a casual wine tasting experience we have in our place.

    I also use the Riedel O restaurant series Cabernet, Syrah, Chardonnay and Pinot glasses at home for everyday use. They are easy to clean. I just pop them in the dishwasher no hand drying needed. For special dinners, bottles or tastings I have a few sets of the Vinum that pull out.

    You can find the Riedel Restaurant series at wineries, wine bars/retailers, or wine accessory shops. Not sure about the legality of reselling as Robert Dwyer posted. I've seen them for sale at many wineries and shops in California. Maybe you can find a nice friend who has a winery/wine store to get you some :-). If you have a resellers license I think they have them available online from

  • 1WineDude

    Thanks, all! Great stuff, keep it coming!

    Man… I really feel like I've overpaid big-time with all of these great low-cost options here!

  • Alleigh

    Honestly, my every day stemware is from Ikea because I have a habit of dropping the glasses either on our granite counters or on our tile floor…shattering them to smithereens. When I'm feeling a little less clumsy, I use Villeroy & Boch glasses that were given to me as a houswarming present when I moved into my first apartment by myself (many moons ago).

    That said, I'm looking to update when my husband and I redo our kitchen this summer, so it's great to see what everyone else uses!

  • Ted

    Funny no mention of the Riedel Overture. The Overture red wine is what most Napa Valley wineries use (in my experience) for in house tasting (red and white wines). It is thin and nicely shaped and inexpensive. Also used by most Napa rental companies for big parties and weddings.

    At home I use "O" glasses mostly because they fit in the dishwasher. I used to use Overture red at home but I can only fit 4 in my dishwasher. I use Vinum Bordeaux for special reds and Vinum Extreme Pinot Noir for special Pinots (these rock). Riedel Champagne flutes for sparks and Overture spirits glass for dessert wine.

    I hate the "Wine" series from Riedel, they have an annoying ribbed stem with textured rings around the base.

    To answer your question Joe: I bought all my stemware from a Riedel rep that supplied one of the wineries that I was working for. I can buy anything they make at wholesale for personal use. I imagine the people that use the "restaurant series" are in the trade. Okay I feel very wine nerdy now…

  • mydailywine

    What does it mean when you have 32 wine glasses of various shapes and sizes but only 12 water glasses?
    Despite that, I want more. Your title lured me in like the stemware junkie that I am. I change the size and quality of the stemware I drink from constantly…depends on my mood and my food.

  • 1WineDude

    I'd say that's a sign of wine geekdom. Don't worry – you're not going crazy, you're going sane in a crazy world!

  • Robert Dwyer

    Hi Ted,

    Interesting opposing viewpoint! I was really unhappy with the Overture I bought because they're smaller than I'd like a red wine glass to be. I find that I can't swirl without spilling and I find it hard to get my nose in the glass the way I'd like to.

    The ribbed stems on the Wine series on the other hand don't bother me- the size of the bowl is just right on them and that's the more important thing for me.


  • 1WineDude

    Ok – just an update on this… I've tried out the Vinum Extreme dessert glasses. I've no idea if this is viable scientifically, but they seem to enhance the fruit and acidity balance of the dessert wines I've tried so far in those glasses…

  • 1WineDude

    Hey All – thanks for all of the great comments! The giveaway is now over and I'll be locking comments for this thread. Winners will be contacted next week.


  • Trackbacks

  • Trackback from Giveaways: Pimp My Cellar Edition! | 1 Wine Dude
    Monday, 8 June, 2009

    […] weeks ago, five lucky winners walked away with copies of the latest way-cool Putumayo world music CD release Italia (a collection […]

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