Glass Act

Glass Act


By Adrienne Garnett    

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Photography by Mike Polito



Back in the day, when young brides selected a crystal pattern at Tiffany’s, tradition dictated that they register for the desired water goblet, wine glass, and finger bowl. Available cut crystal was stately, brilliant, and, for its day, much more than adequate. Then, in 1961, along came Claus J. Riedel, wine expert and master glassware designer, who observed that the same fine wine is experienced quite differently when served in glasses of varying shapes and sizes. Riedel designed and produced the optimal glass for each wine after years of trial and error, following the Bauhaus design dictum “form follows function.”

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But, which form for which function? To find out, we gathered 10 glasses, many through a gracious loan from Neiman Marcus in The Westchester, and brought them to Westchester’s oenophile oasis: Crabtree’s Kittle House in Chappaqua, recipient of Wine Spectator’s Grand Awards. There, Sommelier Donald Castaldo shared his expertise to help us out of the wine-glass quandary. Get ready to learn.


Wine Glass 101

How do you choose the right glass? Know what to look for.

Shape: Ideally, glasses should taper toward the top with the rim a bit smaller than the body, which influences how the wine’s aromas are released and directs them toward the nose. Typically, red wines are served in glasses with wider bowls, white in smaller glasses, and Champagne and sparkling wines in fluted glasses.

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Glass Rim: A cut and polished rim allows the wine to flow smoothly onto the tongue, whereas a rolled rim jogs the flow and tends to accentuate acidity and harshness.

Glass Clarity: Clear glass allows drinkers to examine a wine’s “legs” (the French refer to it as “tears”) that trace their way down the glass, an alleged indicator of the wine’s quality. Theoretically the more legs, the better the wine. It also helps the drinker best to see the color of the wine, which imparts information on the wine, such as its age.

Size: The “breathing space” and swirling room (swirling moistens a larger surface area, increasing the evaporation, and thus the intensity of the aroma) is dictated by the personality of the wine. Reds require larger glasses and most whites (other than the most complex, which also warrant larger glasses) call for medium-sized ones.



1   Manufacturer

2   Style/Pattern

3   Price

4   Uses

5   Sommelier’s Comments

6   Availability



Spiegelau Line: Vino Grande

Burgundy glass

$49.95 (set of 6)

Red wine (Pinot Noir/Burgundy)

“This is a good, all-around useful glass.”

Wine Enthusiast in Elmsford



Riedel Line: Vinum



White wine

“The glass is properly shaped to bring the bouquet and taste of many white wines to the casual enthusiast. This is a good generic choice for white wine.”

Neiman Marcus, The Westchester, in White Plains; Wine Enthusiast in Elmsford; Zachys Wine & Liquor in Scarsdale


Riedel Line: “O”


$25 (set of two)

Red wine

“It’s not for the traditionalist. Something seems to be missing.”

Neiman Marcus, The Westchester, in White Plains; Wine Enthusiast in Elmsford



Neiman Marcus’s Own



Red wine

“This is fine for a casual glass of wine with dinner but not for savoring a fine wine.”

Sold exclusively at Neiman Marcus, The Westchester, in White Plains




Crate & Barrel’s Own

Claudette Goblet


White wine

“While this is quite charming, I wish there was greater depth to the bowl for the aroma to swirl its way up to the nose.”

Crate & Barrel, The Westchester, in White Plains




Baccarat Crystal

“Onde” Goblet #2


White wine

“It would be difficult to swirl the wine in this shape.”

Neiman Marcus, The Westchester, in White Plains; Michael C. Fina in New York City



Varga Crystal

Avignon, Raspberry Hock


Red or white wine

“Though beautiful, this glass diverts the emphasis from the wine experience.”

Neiman Marcus, The Westchester, in White Plains




Riedel Line: Sommelier



Rhone wines

“This hand-made glass is top of the line for its purpose.”

Wine Enthusiast in Elmsford



William Yeoward crystal



Red Wine

“This goblet is beautiful for display or for using on very special occasions when the nuances of the wine are not as important as the elegance of the table.”

Neiman Marcus, The Westchester, in White Plains;





Isabella, large goblet, green tint


White Wine

“Decorative and plausible for casual dinner wine, but not for a serious wine experience.”

Neiman Marcus, The Westchester, in White Plains; Michael C. Fina in New York City;



Crate & Barrel’s Own

Vineyard Cabernet


Red wine 

“Don’t let the price fool you. This Vineyard Cabernet glass is a good example of an effective, simple, full bowl.”

Crate & Barrel, The Westchester, in White Plains







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