Editor’s note: Anu Karwa wrote the Culinate wine column, titled Swirl, from July 2009 through December 2010.
I’ve been noticing a lot of stemless wine glasses. Restaurants use these for whites as well as reds. Do you recommend them?
I’m slightly torn on the stemless-glass front. However, if you checked, you’d find a few lurking in my cupboards, so you can guess how my decision-making ultimately leaned.
The stemless wine glass “revolution” was started by fine-glassware maker Riedel — and now seemingly everyone makes them.
Some of the benefits are obvious. The glasses are more casual. They’re more durable, since glasses often break at the stem. They’re stackable in cupboards, which is great for tight quarters. And — my favorite benefit — they’re dishwasher-safe.
Stemless wine glasses also make a bit of a hip statement, showing the host eschews the traditional path. I also find them perfect for non-alcoholic drinks like juice and water, to which they add an element of chic.
So what’s the downside? Well, the reason there’s a stem on a wine glass in the first place is so the heat from your hands doesn’t transfer to the glass and heat up the wine, changing the taste.
The wine purist in me leans toward the importance of the stem, while the casual, weekday wine drinker in me who hates hand-washing delicate glasses loves them.
My solution? I reserve the stemless versions for casual settings with everyday wines.
If you still want to stick with stemmed glasses, and the stemware brand you’re considering has specific versions (as opposed to just red and white), my advice would be to get the Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc style for white wine, and the Shiraz or Cabernet style for red. They have the most universal shapes — i.e., not too skinny and not too wide. But you can also procure stemless glasses made specifically for each major varietal.
One plug for stemless: I recommend Riedel’s limited-edition Crescendo, a pink glass released in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I’m not a fan of tinted wine glasses of any shade, because they make it hard to appreciate the true color of the wine, but these are for a very worthy cause. Riedel is donating 15 percent of the sale of these glasses to Living Beyond Breast Cancer — four glasses for $70. Buy online at Riedel.com.
Kerry Newberry is a wine and food writer based in Portland, Oregon. She believes a good glass of wine is a story of people, place, and time. Join her here as she seeks out the personalities, politics, and poetics that craft a wine from vine to table. Follow her online and on Twitter @KerryNewberry.
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