Top 10 Best Wine Glasses
In today’s disposable world there is often less emphasis on the quality of the everyday implements we use than perhaps there was in the past. Heck, we can get six pretty nice wine glasses for not much more than a tenner in the kitchenware shops that grace our malls.
But the very best wine glasses have a heritage and design quality that makes them worth seeking out and, perhaps surprisingly, a good quality wine glass will generally be nicer to drink from than the cheaper alternatives. They will even direct different styles of wine to the appropriate taste receptors in the mouth. Where’s that old Bordeaux?
10. Kosta Boda
Another Swedish entry, Kosta Boda (named after the villages Kosta and Boda where the business began) provides a slightly eccentric design approach to wine glasses. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but these glasses will probably be something you like a lot, or not at all.
As global wine consumption soared in the 1970’s and 80’s, Kosta Boda went with it, becoming one of the leading glass producers in the world. Some people believe that Kosta Boda stayed in the ‘80’s but that would not be doing their current fine range of glasses justice.
9. Steklarna Rogaska d.d.
Steklarna Rogaska are a Slovenian crystal manufacturer who strive passionately to make the very best crystal products in the world. More than that, they want everything they make to be art. Aesthetically daring, but elegant and beautiful. There is over 300 years of crystal making history behind the Rogaska name.
Their wine glasses conform to contemporary design aesthetics, being elegant and well balanced in the hand. But there is no denying there is an x factor in the design somewhere. A slightly wider girth? A more obvious base? There is a beauty in the balance of these glasses that makes it hard to let them go.
Orrefors takes its name from Lake Orrenas which was close to the spot an ironworks furnace was built in the early 1700’s, the same site where Orrefors began operations in 1898. Orrefors means ‘the Orre waterfall’.
If a pristine environment in a beautiful Scandinavian forest makes a more pure glass product, then Orrefors have the purest glass on the planet. Their designs have always been clean and understated, and distinctively Orrefors, so maybe there is something in the air up there in Sweden.
7. Dartington Crystal
Estabished in 1967, Dartington Crystal is the only major crystal producer in the UK. All their glasses are handmade and are produced to the highest possible standards, befitting their positioning as a luxury producer. They also tailor make crystal products for clients such as Rolls Royce, P&O Cruises and Chivas Regal.
They have a very good range of styles, from classical wine goblets through to contemporary and elegant red and white wine glasses. It’s nice to see the Brits taking it to their competitors across the channel.
6. Waterford Crystal
This world famous producer has had its ups and downs over the years and people may still consider Waterford products to be somewhat dated. However their Robert Mondavi range of wine glasses are absolutely beautiful.
Following in Riedel’s footsteps, Waterford have fashioned glasses for specific wines such as Pinot Noir, Bordeaux (Cabernet varieties), Chardonnay, Champagne and even Sauvignon Blanc.
Elegant and beautifully balanced, these fine glasses hold their place against the rest on this list.
5. Chateau Baccarat
Baccarat wine glasses have been at the prestigious, and expensive, end of the wine glass spectrum for several hundred years. King Louis XV had a glassworks built in the village of Baccarat in 1775. A commission for stemware for King Louis XVIII was received in 1823 followed by similar commission from royalty throughout Europe.
In the mid 1800’s Baccarat put in place a number of schemes for their workers including insurance policies, a retirement plan and free schooling for their children.
The production and marketing of these glasses is done with no expense spared, including engaging some of the world’s finest designers to add that x factor to limited edition collections. These are wine glasses that border on art and are certainly collectible items.
The earliest record of the Spiegelau business was in the will of Erasmus Mospurger dated 1521 and the name has been synonymous with glass in its various forms across the centuries. The name Spiegelau Crystal Glass Factory was given to the business by its owner at the time, Fritz Pretzfelder, in 1926.
Spiegelau was bought by Riedel in 2004 forming the group now known as Riedel/Nachtmann/Spiegelau. It is listed here as a separate entity because of its history and because it still operates as a standalone business in terms of it glass design and production. (The same as listing Volkswagen and Audi separately although they have common ownership).
Spiegelau have a long history and expertise in making wine glasses that last. The elegant designs suit all wine styles.
3. Bottega del Vino Crystal
In 1986 Severino Barzan bought Bottega Vini, an osteria (café/restaurant) in Verona, Italy. His love of wine saw him expand the cellar and the business became famous around the world for its incredible list of wines..
Barzan became involved in the creation of glassware to match the quality of wines he was serving and after much experimentation he started to create wine glasses from lead free crystal that were strong, light and incredibly durable. More importantly, his guests thought the glasses were something special so he started selling them.
These wine glasses are hand blown and the designs intentionally clean and elegant.
In 2000 a regular guest of Barzan’s shipped pallets of the glasses back to Chicago and demand took off across the US. Today Bottega del Vino Crystal is sold around the world.
2. Schott Zwiesel
Schott Zwiesel and Zwiesel 1872 are brands of wine glasses made by Zwiesel Kristallglas AG, a famous German glass maker that has existed in various forms since, you guessed it, 1872. A management buyout in 2001 has provided the firm with focus and seen revenue grow.
In the early 1990’s the company stopped using lead in their crystal, instead using a new type of very high quality cut glass that is 100% lead oxide free. The company sees strong environmental benefits in this approach while still allowing for the best quality wine glasses which continue to receive awards and accolades from the industry and consumers.
Riedel is an Austrian company that has been making glassware for over 250 years. Their fine crystal wine glasses are widely regarded as the best wine glasses in the world. The Riedel family itself has a long and interesting history dating back to the 1700’s in Bohemia where they were glass traders before setting up a glassworks in a Bohemian forest.
Riedel have been exceptionally innovative over the years. The Vinum range of wine glasses was released by Riedel in the mid 1980’s. With this range they introduced the concept of specific glass shapes for specific types of wine, delivering the wine to the appropriate part of the palate to enhance the tasting experience. These glasses were taken up with gusto by the wine trade and consumers alike.
In the mid 2000’s they released the ‘O’ series stemless wine glasses, again, to great acclaim.
Riedel have a turnover of more than $US350 million and export their wine glasses all around the world. Note that they use lead in their crystal, a fact that they are very open about. The lead is integrated with the glass at a molecular level and Riedel state that they more than meet all the relevant safety standards.
We may get a bit cynical about marketers using the term ‘hand made’ these days but Dartington Crystal put their money where their mouth is by employing real people making real things by hand. Great to see.