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John Wilson: The right glasses will actually make your wine taste better

How to Drink Better: It may be worth investing in some new wine glasses, and there is something for everyone at all price points

Q: All my wine glasses are either ancient or mismatched. Could you recommend a good set for a red and white-loving household?

A: An array of nice glasses look great on the dinner table. It is partly psychological, but the right glasses will actually make your wine taste better. Traditionally, white wine glasses were smaller than red, and it is argued (usually by glass manufacturers who want to increase sales) that this keeps the wine colder for longer and retains delicate aromas. I am dubious about this and generally use the same glass for both, but two sizes on a table can look better.

There is a huge array of glasses available, but all serve the same basic function. Your wine glass should be large but filled only a half or a third full so that you can swirl the wine around and release those lovely aromas. Tulip shaped glasses help to do this too. Fine, thin glass appears more elegant and sophisticated but doesn’t really affect the taste of the wine. So any large tulip-shaped glass will work perfectly and thinner glass is not essential but will add a touch of elegance.

An admission. I am a very clumsy person and regularly smash glasses. I don’t have the time to handwash and dry glasses every night, so I have a dozen or so fine, tulip-shaped stemless glasses from Riedel (€9 each from Mitchells) that I use on a daily basis for every kind of wine, red, white fortified and sparkling. They work perfectly. They also stack nicely in the dishwasher, and having no stems, are broken slightly less frequently.

For special wines, or for when friends come around, I have a set of Riedel Vinum Syrah glasses (about €20 per stem) that work for all wines (these days champagne afficionados use the same style of glass for sparkling wine). Another admission; I put these in the dishwasher too.


I do have various sets or part sets of bigger, more expensive Riedel and Tipperary glasses, including some that could double as a goldfish bowl, but to be honest I rarely use them.

So, if you do want to refresh your glass collection, and this is a good time to do so, a few ideas. IKEA has various decent-looking wine glasses as does Marks & Spencer and Dunnes Stores, all at very affordable prices. For some smarter options, try Mitchell & Son, Jus de Vine, Terroirs, Searsons and other independent shops.

I covet a set of Zalto glasses, used by most German and Austrian producers. However, they are expensive (about €40 per stem, from Searsons, 64Wine and others) and look incredibly delicate. The aforementioned Riedel are the market leaders, Spiegelau and Schott Zwiesel are two very reliable mid-priced options, and Grassl (€26-38 per stem from are very good too.