The Power of Crystal Stemware

16th July 2019


Though the quality of the wine itself is usually the most important factor, the choice of stemware can often improve the taste and aroma as well by a significant amount.

Almost more of a science than an art, stemware has been at the center of a heated debate, one that’s been raging on since as early as the 1600s. Points of contention range from the shape of the stemware, length of the stem, thickness of the rim and the material used; each one of these seemingly small details come together when enjoying sparkling wines to create something more than just a drink. They create an experience.

The Difference Between Glass and Crystal

One of the main elements to crystalware is the material it’s made of. Different to simple glasses thanks to a higher mineral content, crystal stemware has a different, coarser texture to normal glasses, and can lead to very interesting and tasteful interactions with different types of wines. Though crystalware has been traditionally made unique by its lead content, there have been recent breakthroughs thanks to modern science and refining processes which replicate the same texture without the need for potentially harmful metals like lead.

Though it may be difficult for the untrained eye to differentiate between glass and crystal, there are many online guides to help walk you through this process, as well as literature on the subject such as Bob Page’s ‘Crystal Stemware Identification Guide’.

The Qualities

As previously mentioned, crystal stemware has many different qualities that can affect your wine-drinking experience. Of these qualities, these are the most important:


Different bowl shapes allow for a different type of swirl, as well as curbing or encouraging effervescence or aromas when drinking. Many different shapes exist, each with their own strength and ideal wine pairings. For example, sparkling wine flutes are designed with a long and narrow body to better retain carbonation and freshness for longer durations of time, whereas tulip shaped glasses place more of an emphasis on aroma and bouquet, which enhances the taste through olfactory sensation.

According to experts at, the tulip shaped glass is one of the most popular glasses of our age, thanks to its refinement and perfection in overall shape.


Rim thickness and radius are important as well, affecting both aroma and the way that the wine hits your taste buds. Generally, thin rimmed glasses help the wine reach the most sensorial areas of the tongue and mouth and maximize the amount of flavor in each sip. Another benefit of crystal stemware is that crystal is typically able to achieve a much thinner rim than its pure glass counterparts thanks to the stability added by the mineral content.

Rim shape can also affect other aspects as well, with smaller rims retaining temperature and carbonation and wider, less-tapered rims focusing scents in a beneficial way.


Though stemless glasses are often easier to store, the stem is crucial and integral to the design of a piece of crystal. Longer stems reduce the amount of body heat transferred from the hand to the glass and helps protect the quality and sanctity of the wine inside. As a result of this, fine pieces of crystal stemware are also kept in pristine condition, as the longer stems help prevent the accumulation of fingerprints, smudges and stains.


Lastly, texture is integral to the wine drinking experience as a whole. From the way that the glass feels to the touch, to the way that the wine itself interacts with the surface of the glass, texture can be one of the single most important qualities when it comes to stemware. Crystal stemware simply carries a different quality about it, making it the ideal choice for any special occasion.

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