Glassware is almost as important as the wine selected says Alexandra Hackett,  Beverage Director for The Cliffs. And, the correct crystal stemware can  positively impact how your next bottle is experienced. With the holiday  season upon us, we asked the sommelier how to upfit a wine bar with stems  both beautiful in the hand and hard working.

  1. Why is an ergonomically designed crystal wine glass the new standard?

Using crystal stemware is best option because they are designed for specific varietals that truly brings the wine to life. While thinner and clearer than normal stemware, these handspun glasses maintain their strength and durability. Riedel is the best-known crystal designed for enjoying wine today. Other comparable options are Schott Zwiesel, Spiegelau and, if you are willing to splurge, Zalto.

2. What do the new sizes and shapes offer the wine drinker?

Understanding the correct shape needed for each wine really helps the wine shine. The way the wine swirls in the bowl affects its taste, as the wine will aerate and begin to release aromas, better known as the nose. Red wines need room to breathe, so a larger bowl is necessary. White wines also need to breathe, but a smaller bowl is used to help maintain the proper cooler temperature and concentrate the aromas to the top of the glass. The shapes of the opening of the glass controls where on your tongue the wine gets delivered; wines with more tannins should hit the center of the tongue, while wines with higher acid should hit the tip of the tongue.

3. What wine glasses should a well-stocked home bar include?

You should have four types of glasses:

All-purpose white wine glass: medium in bowl size to help preserve the aromas, maintain the proper temperature and express more acidity.

Bordeaux glass: higher and larger bowl so the wine can aerate better when swirled, allowing the tannins to soften. Ideal for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Bordeaux, bold Italians, Shiraz/Syrah, Malbec, Grenache.

Burgundy glass: the wide bowl allows the development of the aromas while the smaller rim collects the aromas at the top of the glass. Ideal for Pinot Noir from all over the world, Amarone/Valpolicella and lighter styles of red wine.

Sparkling glass: the newer tulip shape allows for the proper development of bubbles and allows you to swirl the wine. These glasses also have been etched at the bottom of the bowl to help keep the bubbles dancing.

4. How do I clean and store this crystal stemware?

Make sure you have room for them, and a space dedicated to them. The thinner the glass, the more delicate the handling should be. Never put stemware in the dishwasher, always wash by hand. Also polishing cloths or drying towels should not be treated with fabric softener, as it leaves a clear residue.

Our Expert:

Alexandra Hackett

is a sommelier and the Beverage Director across The Cliffs’ seven communities. Visit their website for more at