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Nov 29, 2009 03:34 PM

General Purpose Red Wine Glasses?

I realize it's an evergreen, but I don't see any recent threads on this exact query...and it's gift-giving season, so some new discussion can't

Can anyone recommend a general-purpose red wine glass - a skillful compromise which suits all wines pretty well? If I had to stipulate, I drink mostly cab and port, but I'd like versatility.

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  1. How much are you looking to pay? How robust a glass are you looking for (e.g. does it need to be dishwasher-compatible)?

    I quite like the Riedel Ouverture Magnums, which have big bowls and short stems, can take quite a bit of abuse and are inexpensive enough that they don't give me a heart attack when one gets broken. While they're arguably too big for light reds like Beaujolais, those wines won't suffer from being served in a white wine glass.

    Traditionalists wouldn't want to use them or any other red wine glass for port, however. I use INAO tasting glasses; if I didn't have a set, I'd opt for a white wine glass. Purpose-built port glasses exist, of course. See here for an earlier discussion:

    6 Replies
    1. re: carswell

      $$ isn't critical (someone else is paying!). Dishwasher-proof not necessary, as it'll only be four glasses, though the very top Reidel stuff always makes me nervous; I feel like I'm gonna crush it in my hand. And I'd also like to avoid the really enormous goblets if possible.

      I wouldn't totally mind getting separate port glasses, but it seems a waste for once-per-year....though OTOH I have some pretty good vintage port (bought 77s and 85s back in the day) that deserves better than short shrift...

      1. re: Jim Leff

        You are right to be nervous about the Sommelier line. The glasses are beautiful, but oh so fragile. I got quite a few glasses when I got married, and have about three of them left. I've switched to the Vinum line - though I do still covet the Sommelier glasses with the green stems.

        I have both the basic Vinum Pinot Noir and Cabernet glasses, so, in terms of Riedel, I would go with the latter.

        1. re: MMRuth

          To be specific, I have the Bordeaux and Burgundy glasses.

          Edit - you might want to take a look at for good prices. Haven't compared them to Amazon, but once upon a time they offered discounted prices on Riedel. Also, a couple of years ago Sherry Lehman had a sale on them - though the might have been right before they moved to Park Avenue.

        2. re: Jim Leff

          I'd never buy the Reidel Sommelier glasses. They're gorgeous but impossibly fragile. And huge bowls are just silly.

          The great thing about INAO glasses is that they are multi-functional. I use mine for port, sherry, spirits I drink neat (Scotch, brandy/Cognac/Armagnac, Bourbon, etc.), the occasional cocktail, wine when I want to restrict my intake, picnics and tastings.

          1. re: carswell

            Well, you and I may be among the few that enjoy drinking from INAO glasses. My bigger-nosed friends hate them for other than comparative tasting.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              As a big-shnozzed ABJ, I'll pass...

      2. Jim Leff, for one all-purpose glass, Schott Zweisel Congresso series "full-bodied white/light red." The slightly taller and wider "full-bodied red" in the same series has a broader bowl for developing aroma, but we find that the 3" width of the slightly smaller size is quite adequate for even a Sagrantino di Montefalco (a very, very big wine), and the narrower profile conserves shelf space/dishwasher rack space. Break-resistant, the Schott Zweisel is dishwasher safe, provided that you use a low-phosphate dishwasher detergent (we use zero-phosphate Ecover) to avoid etching.

        1. I like the Riedel Vinum Chianti glass for a generic red

          13 Replies
          1. re: Steve_K

            Agreed. That's what we use for generic reds, too, and it seems to be the choice for most restaurants and wine bars in our area, too.

            1. re: Niki in Dayton

              Thanks, all. And thanks, Politeness, for the out-of-box suggestion of a lesser-known option. I love that sort of thing! :)

              1. re: Jim Leff

                Is this the correct Riedel glass? I"m concerned, because the description, at least on Amazon, indicates that it's for whites and lighter reds, and I drink mostly cabs

                1. re: Jim Leff

                  Prolly so. It's what many wine accessory stores recommend as the best all-purpose red wine glass.

                  It holds 13 oz, so if you fill it half full you're talking 6 oz, i.e. 3/4 cup, of wine, more than enough for most reds. If you want something bigger, move up to the 21.5-oz Bordeaux stem (which, like the Ouverture Magnums, wouldn't be great for lighter reds and whites).

                  The best thing, of course, is to drop buy a store with a large selection of glasses and see what you like, gauge the size, test how each model feels in your hand.

                  1. re: Jim Leff

                    Yes, that is my go-to glass. Often folks ask how one glass can suit Chianti, Zin & Riesling. I think the similarity is that these are aromatic and high-acid grape varieties. I wash mine by hand although I know plenty of people that put them in the dishwasher.

                    But if you're mostly drinking cabs, I'd get the Bordeaux glasses from Cost Plus that are made by Spiegelau. This time last year they were on sale for half-price.

                    Also, I'd suggest that you buy 6 stems. If you break 2, you'll still have 4 left that match.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Thanks Melanie. Good point re: breakage. To turn it around, would this be a horrendous glass to serve higher acid wines in?

                      Wish I had room for glasses for every purpose, but that would require giving up some of my treasured Belgian beer glasses.....

                      1. re: Jim Leff

                        Not horrendous unless you're drinking Nebbiolo or Pinot Noir, then it makes them gangly. A thin-lipped, tulip-shaped glass, such as this, is better than nothing.

                        However, if space is a concern, the Bordeaux glasses are large. You might be better served by having six smaller glasses on hand. The Forte that others have mentioned is used widely in winery tasting rooms in Sonoma County and it's a good all-round glass. I just wish the stem were a little shorter, it feels top heavy in my hand.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          I do so abhor a gangly nebbiolo, don't you?

                          Anyway, thanks, Melanie, I'll whip all these suggestions into a blender and come up with something....

                          1. re: Jim Leff

                            I dunno about New York, but if you made the rounds of San Francisco's many wine bars, you'd have a chance to test drive just about all of the glasses we've mentioned in this thread. You can experiment with trying port, cab, and other wines in the different shapes and decide which you like best.

                    2. re: Jim Leff

                      The glass described in your Amazon website is one of the most useful glasses for various wines. I have tasted Zin side by side in that and a larger Bordeaux glass and found an astonishing difference. Originally, I bought Riedels for about half the price listed at Amazon, but we have broken almost all of them. Next, I tried the same sized Schott Zwiesel with great success. I only use three sizes: the Chard/Zin/Sangiovese, the Burgundy and the Bordeaux. I have bounced the Schott Zwiesels off of plates and caught them without spilling the wine. In order to set a table with matching wine glasses, I just purchased two boxes of 8 Luigi Bormioli “Symphony” 20 oz. wine stems. These are very nice, titanium reinforced, lead free, blown crystal glasses with a 25 year guarantee. I got them at Costco for about $25 per 8 stems. The Riedel Vinum Bordeaux stem is 21.5 oz., so these are very similar and would be useful for Cab.

                      1. re: BN1

                        BN1, at the link you provided, there is no "Symphony" line; were you referring to the "Crescendo" line?

                        1. re: Politeness

                          I noted the Symphony line wasn't on their website, but the information with the set indicates the same construction as the other lines. That is why I linked to "about Luigi Bormioli". I don't know whether Symphony is a line of glasses or just an introductory model. Anyway, we have used them and they are nice stems.

                    3. re: Jim Leff

                      Jim Leff, re: "the out-of-box suggestion of a lesser-known option," if you peruse the current thread headed "Wine glasses and granite counters," you would think the Riedel to be the off-beat choice and the Schott Zweisel to be the mainstream glass. As for the shape, we first chose it because, in the universe of wine glasses that we could actually hold and measure before purchasing, the Congresso came closest -- nearly an exact match, in fact -- to the glasses that were a required purchase for tasting all of the estates' wines at the Vendemmia festival in Greve in Chianti (the unofficial capital of Chianti Classico) the year (1998) that we visited. We brought home two glasses, broke one, and tried to purchase another glass that matched the shape of that Chianti glass, finding the Congresso to match more closely than any other.

                2. I use the Riedel Vinum Bdx. stem (sorry, do not have the model number handy), and they work well. Some like their Zin glasses, and feel that they are more universal.

                  For Port, I am a big fan of the copita. While I have some of the Riedel Vinums, my all time fav. is one done by Villory-Bosch. Unfortunately, they have not made them in over a decade. Glad that I bought all 24, when I cleaned them out. Only have 22 now, but it has been about 16 years, and many Port tastings, so that is not too bad. They are almost the same shape as the Vinums, but a bit smaller. The balance is better, and the bowl is just a tad thinner. Just flat great.

                  Good luck,


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    Bill, I'm a port fanatic from way back, too (have you ever tried the 31 nacional? I'll settle for 63!). Congrats on scoring those glasses, can you leave me two in your will? :)

                  2. In general, if you prefer the look of "classic" wine glass stylings, I always always recommend the Schott Zwiesel "Forte" lineup of glasses. Shatter resistant. Thin glass. Personally I like the Forte "Claret" Burgundy glasses over the normal Forte Burg glasses b/c they are a little bigger. Otherwise, the SZ Forte Burgundy glasses are versatile for almost any wine, red AND even white.

                    Realistically, despite what the experts and believers will say, you don't need a glass shape for every wine.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Cary

                      Thanks, but, fwiw, I have zero regard for the glass' appearance, how it feels in my hand, etc.

                      My sole desire is to get something that will allow wines to express themselves. I found in my teenage years that stemware from, say, Ikea, doesn't really work. :)

                      1. re: Jim Leff

                        In that case you will have no issues with Schott Zwiesel's Forte line. A bit cheaper than Riedels and generally more sturdy.

                        1. re: Jim Leff

                          "how it feels in my hand"


                          I urge you to rethink this part, just a bit. I find the balance to be part of the total experience. I have some lovely Riesling glasses, that have a perfect bowl. However, they are top-heavy and I never quite feel comfortable with them.

                          Just play around a bit, and I'll bet that your favorite glasses are ALSO balanced well. Might surprise you.

                          Most of all, ENJOY!