My go-to wine glass manufacturer has always been Riedel, but there are many others worthy of consideration.
Chef Sommelier, which provides the standard glass used in the World’s Best Sommelier Competition, also gets the thumbs up from Dany Rolland, wife and wine-making partner of renowned oenologist Michel Rolland. The technology behind this glass is known as Kwarx – a patented process that makes glassware more durable, resistant to chipping and brighter and easier to polish. These glasses have a distinctive V-shaped bowl at the bottom, with a rounded top.
Wine critic James Suckling has paired his considerable tasting skills with Lalique to create the one-size-fits-all 100 Points glass. It is hefty and comfortable in the hand, with an ornate sculpted stem in the Lalique style. The bowl is generously sized allowing plenty of room for swirling.
Master of Wine Jeannie Cho Lee’s signature wine glass collection features mouth-blown glasses handmade in Italy, as well as machine-made glasses distributed worldwide by Spiegelau. They have an elegant stem inspired by a woven grapevine and a design that is timeless in any setting. There are different glasses for different wines, with the U1 a good option as a one-size-fits-all tasting glass.
When I first saw a Zalto wine glass, I was awed by its tall, reed-thin stem. It appears frighteningly fragile – as though a sneeze would be enough to break it. Surprisingly feather-light in the hand with a wide, shallow bowl, this glass can hold a small sip or a generous pour. It is also sturdier than it looks, being mouth-blown and so one single piece of glass. When clinking, it has a lovely resonant bell tone.
A glass that was a lucky find is the Gabriel-Glas, designed by Swiss wine critic René Gabriel. It has a cult following among winemakers and sommeliers. It’s a single glass in two editions – the mouth-blown Gold and the machine-made StandArt. The Gold version is amazingly light and well balanced with its perfectly flat base, and is great for holding anything from a tasting pour to a proper measure. The StandArt is heavier in the hand. Surprisingly sturdy, they are reportedly dishwasher-safe. I have only one and use it almost daily.
Choice of glass is a matter of preference, taste and budget. What is essential is that the glass is spotlessly clean with no soapy residue. This can be achieved by rinsing with hot water and polishing with a linen cloth that has not been washed with fabric softener.
Nellie Ming Lee is a food stylist and part-time sommelier studying with the Court of Master Sommeliers