Decent stemware in bulk on a budget
I'm looking for some decent stemware in somewhat large quantities - 40 -100. I'm planning on doing food and wine tastings with a sommelier and I'm looking for something nice that isn't going to cost me Riedel prices. Any ideas?
My opinion: Schott Zwiesel "Tritan". Schott makes industrial safety glass and they have a formulation that makes the glasses lighter and more durable - we've had them for years and put them through the dishwasher (Siemens) on glass mode (short wash, 35C (95F) minimum detergent) and they don't cloud.
We have Riedel Vinum, Tritan and some of the better Costco glasses. I think the Reidels break on their own just to vex you. The Tritans bounce where the Costcos break. At about $9 per glass, the Tritans longevity make them the cheapest in the long run, IMO.
I have broken 5 glasses in my drinking lifetime. 4 were Riedel glasses - their lovely but delicate Sommelier line.
Twice I laughed at a joke, set down my glass, and then looked in wonderment as the base detached from the stem. One broke during a toast, and the last one when washing by hand.
I now regard Riedels with positive trepidation every time I handle one. Their Vinum is ok, but I'm not paying for their brand name. The Schott Zwiesel Tritans are really, really durable. Light too!
So nowadays, we look at the Riedel wine aroma chart and then find the Tritan glass that matches best if we go glass shopping.
PS: If any of you decide to go to Kufstein to Riedel in Austria to buy the glasses, be aware that you won't get it cheaper unless you go to the hall that sells defects.
I think the Spieglau line is comparable to Riedel Vinum, and seems somehow a little more durable. I think the 'Cabernet/Zinfandel' is a great all-around glass at around $9 a stem. I do, however, like the Riedel shape a little more for Champagne and Burgundy.
World Market got a whole bunch of Spiegelau-made glasses after Riedel bought out Spiegelau and sold them for about $3 each. Might want to look to see if there's any available in your area.
Though now owned by Riedel, the Spigleau line is still a bargain, referenced to the Riedel lines. Also know that Riedel has many lines of wine stems. Costco (western US) often has many of the lower-end lines at great prices.
Also, Schott-Zweisel [SP?] does a really nice "restaurant-grade" line of wine stems. I also recently encountered Roma stemware, and it did a good job. I do not know this house, but the stems were nice, well-balanced and a pleasure to drink from.
My collection is about 85% Riedel Vinum with the rest being Waterford Marquis and Riedel Sommelier stems.
For what you are doing, I picked up about 96 Riedel (think it was their Overture line) of "general purpose" glasses. They work well for tastings and also for water glasses at dinners. I found them on sale at Brown Derby, IIRC, and picked them up for about US$5/stem. Biggest problem is storing the majority of these, as we only had room for 24. Luckily, we had downstairs "guest room" closet space. Now, if I can only find room for my Sauternes glasses...
re: Bill Hunt
Looks like Spiegelau upped the ante with their "Platinum" line to compete directly with Schott Zwiesel. Both went through the same testing procedure with the Landesgewerbeanstalt Bayern (LGA - State Trade Institute of Bavaria).
Schott Zwiesel (in German):
Translation: Tests were done by Stiftungs Warentes and the LGA in Feb. 2004. The "Diva" line had the highest brilliance compared to others tested with 1000 machine wash-cycles. The glasses come with a 3 year warranty against corrosion. All you have to do is take the glass and receipt back to the store you brought them from and they will replace it free of charge. If they are missing the glass you want, a similar glass will be exchanged or your money back.
Spiegelau (in English):
They also did tests with the LGA in May 2005. You can click on the "LGA" symbol on the page. Its supposed to be good for 1500 machine wash-cycles.
I guess this is where personal preference and above all cost comes into play. Of course, you might want to try to drop-test both brands on the floor of the shop! :)