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Stemless VS Stem and Crystal VS Glass

I'll admit that I'm the type to drink cheap Yellow Tail red merlot right out of the bottle, or ice cold slushy Mad Dog or Night Train, especially when camping. Maybe this is why I'm content with regular drinking glasses for wine and have never bought wine glasses in my 30+ ott years.

However, I'd like to start stocking a few wine bottles (not Mad Dog or Night Train, lol) for company or whatnot, hence the "need" for an actual goblet thing. Maybe for some absinthe also.

I like the idea of zero stems for the longevity of the glass and also the industrialist minimalistic futuristic design of them. Is there a reason for stems?

And what are the perks of crystal versus glass?

Perhaps I should've put this in the "Wine" section. My bad if this is the wrong section.

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  1. My experience - wine glasses break so I buy cheap ones, Riedel is not for me.

    Stems theoretically keep your hands from warming the wine - I don't care so much about that but they feel well in the hand I prefer them.

    crystal is heavy and the heft in the hand can be nice - especially with a formal table setting, I find heavy Waterford-type crystal great for water goblets on a dinner table but worthless for sipping wine by the fire - I would skip that for casual wine consumption

    some basic Bormioli Rocco restaurant style wine glasses will do you well as will some cheapo glasses from the dollar store

    1. I have all sorts of glasses from breakable stems to grande reidel goblets. But come every holiday or dinner party, I end up with a stemless perched on the window sill as I prepare and finish the meal and participate with my guests.
      Sometimes I will switch over to a goblet at the dinner table. Sometimes not.

      We go casual these days, so when entertaining I usually set up a table with all sorts of stemware for our guests to choose from and a couple of wines decanted.

      1. Dude likes stems while I prefer stemless, but mostly because I'm the one who has to hand wash the stems.

        Like Bellachefa, we generally keep it casual. Most of our entertaining is done on the lanai, not in the dining room. For years we used winery logo glasses when entertaining. Guests just had to remember which winery was theirs. We've found that shorter glasses aren't as easy to knock over, another reason to go stemless.

        We've got some really nice stems in specific shapes that we'll use for our very best wines, but for everyday, cheap is good.

        1. We've got a range of wine glasses, from fine crystal Riedel and Orrefors stemware to less expensive stemware, and literally dozens of stemless wine glasses (about $4 apiece, from Crate & Barrel). Unlike crystal like Waterford that JTP describes as "heavy," our Riedel and Orrefors crystal is whisper thin and delicate; we rarely use it and when we do, it's typically just for ourselves for a special dinner. Like Bellachefa, we end up using the stemless a lot, even for a "formal" dinner with the good china and sterling flatware -- it's virtually impervious to breakage and fits easily in the dishwasher, so it's the most convenient when we are hosting a large-ish group.

          1. I got free at my nice grocery store a pair of Riedel stemless, and bought more. Of course good wineglasses really do make a difference to the taste of the wine--but that's only a good thing if you really like the wine. A wine that's not your favorite is better not in Riedel.

            The stemless handle really well while using them, so I was surprised when I promptly broke one while washing. I find them awkward to wash, and the heavy base is quite dangerous to any other glass in the vicinity if it gets away from you. For me, stemmed have better longevity, as long as they aren't seconds (I bought my very first wine glasses from TJ Maxx, not exactly a genius move).

            3 Replies
            1. re: foiegras

              Your stemless are obviously nicer than mine. No heavy base on ours. Also, I do agree that the "red wine" stemless have somewhat fuller bowls, and a bit slippery to hold onto when washing by hand. This is not an issue for the slimmer "white wine" stemless. Anyway one of the main reasons we use the stemless is the ease of loading them into the dishwasher. I rarely wash them by hand.

              1. re: masha

                <Anyway one of the main reasons we use the stemless is the ease of loading them into the dishwasher. I rarely wash them by hand.>

                +1. It's dishwasher all the way for our stemless. The problem is as you noted, the reds are round and slippery, although I can fit my hand inside them, which helps. Whites are easier to hold, but I have trouble getting my hand inside one. Thankfully, it's not normally necessary.

                1. re: DuffyH

                  Even when the DW is too full to accommodate all the stemless wine glasses, I typically just pour out the contents, rinse, and set them aside for the next DW-load, rather than wash by hand.

                  As a practical matter, when we do use the fine crystal stemware(or even less "fine" stemware that won't fit into the DW), they rarely get washed until the next day anyway. I find that this reduces breakage by waiting until (a) I am stone-cold sober, and (b) the dish drainer is absolutely empty so that the contents of the drainer don't shift and break the stemware.

            2. Whatever you choose, make sure you are content with breaking it. There is nothing sadder than seeing people who are afraid ever to use stems because the cost makes them fear breakage, Some crystal is quite thin and light, some heavy but it is important that you enjoy looking at it and holding it. If you don't then you are wasting money and should buy glass.

              Crystal makes much more sense for cognac where a thin crystal allows better warming from your hand, stems are for avoiding hand heat. In the end it is mostly a matter of aesthetics.

              1. I prefer stems...I have drank wine out of a cut-down water bottle, so no snobbery here -- I just like stems better.

                So I haunt TJ Maxx, Ross, Marshalls, and Home Goods -- you can find some really nice glasses (sometimes even Riedel) for a price that won't leave you sobbing when someone inevitably breaks one.

                For big parties, I keep Ikea glasses on hand -- nicer than plastic, dirt cheap, so I just shrug when they get broken, and that much less plastic in the trash (or recycle bin)

                1. Hi, Muddirt:

                  I prefer stems for a variety of reasons--temperature control, ease of eyeing, aeration, and nosing (and pours). I also actually find them easier to manage on a crowded table. But they can be a PITA for people who depend on their DWers. But for a friendly quaff of plonk red, the stemless are fine by me; they just make it a little harder to judge the wine.

                  Crystal vs. glass is less important to me. The glassmakers' art has advanced dramatically enough that it is sometimes not possible to tell much difference between very good glass and crystal. Many makers, e.g. Schott-Zweisel and Bormioli are mixing in titanium and other elements so that the resulting stems are as brilliant and thin as crystal and quite break-resistant.

                  I have Reidels and other crystal, but I really like the Luigi Bormioli Symphony line. Costco was carrying the 20 oz Bordeau stems, at 8 for something like $30. A little large for a general-purpose stem, IMO, but you can find the 13 oz stems at other places, albeit more expensive. I haven't broken a Symphony yet.

                  You should check out the Wine board because there are many threads there on stemware.


                  1. For reasons I can't really explain, likely my upbringing, I prefer stems for wine. I can't get behind the stemless wine glasses.

                    Wine glasses in our house are suicidal. Like someone else said, assume breakage.

                    I prefer a thin wall and edge on my wine glasses. I keep an eye out for specials at my grocery store. Often Wegman's will have boxes their house brand of 4 on sale for $20. Very nice glasses for the price. I have also found stems for $2 or so dollars at TJMaxx.

                    We picked up a set of Rolf glasses while on vacation. So far, they have held up well.