The Best Universal Wine Glasses

Winners of best universal wine glasses

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

A person’s collection of wine glasses says a lot about where they are in the journey of adulthood. Until recently, my wine glass collection didn’t exactly scream, "I’m a functioning grown-up with a savings account!" Apparently, a Mason jar is not the correct vessel from which to drink wine. Neither, I’ve been told, is a plastic pint container, emptied of potato salad, cleaned, and repurposed for Chablis or Chardonnay.

But in my tiny apartment kitchen, I don’t have the space to house a variety of wine glasses designated for red, white, and bubbly wine. Even if I did have room for a plethora of glasses, I'd still have neither the wine expertise nor the budget to justify them all.

With price, functionality, and appearance in mind, we set out to find an attractive all-purpose glass ideal for sipping red, white, and even sparkling wine. To identify a glass that delivered on taste and aroma, and didn’t compromise on aesthetics, I called in the help of two expert sommeliers. Along with some members of the Serious Eats team, they sipped and tested their way through 10 wine glasses.

Our Favorites, at a Glance

The Best All-Purpose Wine Glass: Riedel Vinum Grand Cru Riesling/Zinfandel Wine Glass

These elegant crystal glasses from Riedel came out on top in our tests, impressing both professional sommeliers and casual wine-drinkers with their ability to capture the aromas of red, white, and bubbly wines. The narrow bowls and short stems make the Riedel Vinum wine glasses ideal for small kitchens where storage space is tight.

The Best Affordable Modern Glass: Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Cabernet Glass

The Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Cabernet Glass is a great, relatively inexpensive glass. This glass has sharper angles than the other glasses we tested, which feature traditional curved shapes leading to tapered openings, and also stands slightly taller than many of the others, giving it a modern feel. While this glass was rated well by most testers, its height and build might make it impractical for those with less storage space.

The Best Affordable Classic Glass: Libbey Signature Kentfield Estate All-Purpose Wine Glass

For a glass that’s inexpensive and features a classic and practical design, the Libbey Signature Kentfield Estate All-Purpose Wine Glass takes the cake. Its height and bowl size put it squarely in the middle of the road. Our sommelier testers liked its lightness, and noted that its bowl was large enough to accentuate the aromas of red wines, though it performed well with white and sparkling wine, too.

While this glass performed very similarly to our favorite modern glass, the Schott Zwiesel, it has a sparer design, is more compact, and features a thinner stem that some testers preferred.

The Best Budget Glass: Stolzle Eclipse Wine Glass

The Stolzle Eclipse Wine Glass is a great pick if you frequently host large parties or events. The price per glass is extremely low, and the glasses come in sets of six, as opposed to two or four. This was the least expensive glass we tested, and it performed nearly as well as some of our other favorites. It is shaped very similarly to the other classic glasses we tested, but is slightly bulkier, heavier, and less elegant.

The Criteria: What We Look for in a Great All-Purpose Wine Glass

[top] Pouring red wine into wine glass.

Drinking wine is a sensory experience, and has as much to do with what you smell as what you taste. A great wine glass accentuates and captures a wine’s aroma, directing its smell to your nose, while allowing the wine to open up and breathe in the bowl.

Wines vary, of course, and different glass shapes can help or hinder any given wine's expression. Red wine glasses tend to have wide, tall bowls that let the strong, full-bodied flavors of red wines develop and breathe, while white wine glasses are usually narrower, designed to deliver the wine’s lighter aromas and flavors in a more controlled way. White wine glasses tend to have longer stems, too, so the drinker’s hand doesn’t accidentally warm the chilled wine. This can make finding a single, universal wine glass something of a challenge.

Beyond these basic differences, hundreds of glasses have been designed with particular varietals in mind, claiming to harness each one's aroma and send the wine to just the right taste buds in your mouth. Some serious doubts have been raised over whether this degree of wine-glass specialization really makes any difference.

But it isn't just taste or even smell that determines whether we enjoy our drinking experience. Does the size of the wine glass opening allow space for a nose to poke in and inhale deeply? Is the glass pretty, or does it feel and look cheap and clunky? These factors will greatly affect the experience even for the most untrained drinker.

Rows of several universal wine glasses lined up on a countertop, with blue labels on their bases, next to bottles of red, white, and sparkling wine

The idea of owning a fancy wine glass for each style of wine you drink is nice, but for the average consumer, it’s just not realistic; for most folks, even owning separate sets for red and white is a bit much. So we set out to find an inexpensive glass that delivered equally well with red, white, and sparkling wines.

To start, we selected 10 wine glasses, ranging in price from $3 to $29 each. To select these glasses, we compared winners from other tests, and asked several respected sommeliers what their favorite all-purpose glasses are for red and white wines.

The sommeliers we spoke to agreed that the ideal all-purpose glass will have a thin lip and be relatively lightweight. We considered only glasses with basic designs (though one etched glass snuck into the group) and set a price cap for all of our glasses at $25 apiece—though our winning glass went up a bit in price after we started working on this review.

Though an enormous bowl might do a great job with red wines, we ruled out any glasses that seemed impractically large—something that just wouldn’t make sense for storage in an average home-kitchen cabinet. Above all else, an all-purpose glass should be practical enough that you'll want to use it every time you’re having a glass of wine, not just when you're hosting a fancy dinner party.

The Testing

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On the day of the testing, we called in two experienced sommeliers to taste a variety of wines in each glass.

Zwann Grays, the wine director at the celebrated Brooklyn restaurant Olmsted, joined us in the Serious Eats test kitchen, along with André Hueston Mack. Grays has sharpened her skills working in bars and restaurants throughout New York City, including Anfora, Bouley, Terroir Park Slope, and Estela. Mack owns a wine company and has worked as a sommelier at The French Laundry and Per Se; in 2003, he was named Best Young Sommelier in America by the long-standing French gastronomic society Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.

Andre Hueston Mack and Zwann Grays pose.

André Hueston Mack and Zwann Grays.

The 10 glasses were labeled at the base with randomized numbers, and small pieces of tape were used to cover any obvious watermarks that might have tipped off our testers to the brand of glass. The glasses were set out in front of each tester, along with a spit bucket and a glass of water to wash away the taste of wine between tests.

In addition to the 10 glasses being tested, we also provided each tester with a "control" glass for both red and white wine, both engineered by Riedel specifically for the wines we were pouring, both approved by our expert sommeliers, and both far outside of our price range. These glasses were intended to give testers a reference point, so they could drink from the "ideal" glass as well as the ones they were testing, and compare the aroma, sipping experience, and feel of each glass in their hand with a much more expensive, not-remotely-all-purpose glass.

Zwann Grays smells red wine in glass.

To test the glasses' all-purpose-ness, after discussion with our expert sommeliers, we chose three wines that are interesting and assertive but inexpensive enough that an average drinker might end up pouring them at their own dinner table.

For white wine, we chose a Falanghina, Agnanum "Sabbia Vulcanica" 2018, a South Italian wine with noticeable minerality, a light dryness, and subtle notes of stone fruit. For our red, we went with the 2014 Château Beauséjour "Pentimento" Bordeaux blend from Montagne-Saint-Émilion, an earthy wine that benefits from breathing before it's served. And, for bubbles, we chose a Bohigas Brut Reserva Cava, a crisp, refreshing, and celebratory Cava.

We conducted the test in two rounds, first having our sommeliers test all the glasses, then repeating the same tests with Daniel, Sasha, and two other members of our editorial team—all with different levels of knowledge surrounding wine.

Testers were first asked to rate, on a scale of 1 to 10, the glass's overall appearance, noting everything from aesthetics to any issues they might have fitting a certain glass upright in their cupboard. Next, testers rated each glass for its feel in their hands, noting whether they liked it or if it seemed unbalanced, bulky, or unexpectedly heavy. Testers were also asked to rate each glass on how comfortable it was to drink from, taking note of the size of the mouth and the length of the stem.

Andre Hueston Mack takes notes on wine.

Once testers had evaluated the physical appearance and general comfort-in-hand of each glass, they were tasked with smelling and sipping their way through the lineup.

First, we poured the white wine into each glass, including the Riedel "ideal" glass. Testers swirled and twirled, sipped, and spat before finally rating each glass on its ability to pick up the flavor and bouquet from the wine.

Once testers had finished with the white, there were snack breaks (to cleanse the palate, of course) before we repeated the same test for sparkling and then red wine. Testers were asked to score each glass, again using a scale of 1 to 10, on how well it performed with the red wine, white wine, and Cava, then gave a final overall score for each glass, taking all of their prior notes and ratings into account.

How We Chose Our Winners

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Pointing at wine glass scoring sheet.

To choose our winners, we averaged the testers’ overall ratings for all the glasses and compared them. Once the scores were in, we realized that several glasses were neck and neck (stem and stem?), so we decided to lend slightly more weight to the quantitative ratings of our expert sommeliers in order to help break ties and set our winners apart.

Our favorite glass increased in price on Amazon during the testing, so we made sure to include among our winners several other excellent glasses that are quite affordable and still held their own throughout the tests.

The Best All-Purpose Wine Glass: Riedel Vinum Grand Cru Riesling/Zinfandel Wine Glass

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Riedel Vinum Zinfandel wine glass on white background

One drinker from the Serious Eats team called the Riedel Vinum glass a "stunner," while one of the sommeliers called it a "nice little package for every day [drinking]." Though its price shifted upward midway through our tests, we’ve included it because it was the clear winner of the group.

This glass delivered quite well with red, white, and bubbly wines alike. Inhaling the aroma of the white and red wines from this glass, our testers found their fragrance much more pronounced and developed than in many of the other contenders, which left the wine smelling rather flat.

With a shorter stem and smaller bowl than most of the other glasses we tested, the Riedel Vinum is unassuming and compact, perfect for smaller kitchens with less space for storage. Several testers noted, however, that the glass felt a little too short, and that its opening was tight; Sasha mentioned that it was difficult to fit his whole hand around the short stem, making this glass perhaps less than ideal for larger-pawed drinkers.

Its light weight (five ounces) makes the Riedel Vinum feel graceful, and, despite its seeming delicacy, the crystal glass is dishwasher-safe.

The Best Affordable Modern Glass: Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Cabernet Glass

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Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Cabernet wine glass on white background

One tester appreciated the Schott Zwiesel glass’s "very modern lines," while another said it looked like something "they’d drink out of on an episode of Billions." (*pops collar; adjusts pinky ring*)

Grays observed that the tall bowl helped to open up and accentuate the aroma of all the wines she tasted, offering "slow and steady" gratification. Mack saw the glass and immediately identified it as one he drinks from at home, a longtime favorite.

The wide base of the bowl makes this a great red wine glass, while the narrow opening controls the aroma of lighter white wines. Weighing six and a quarter ounces, and standing taller than most of the other glasses we tested, this glass is something of a statement piece, but it may be impractical for those with less storage space.

The Best Affordable Classic Glass: Libbey Signature Kentfield Estate All-Purpose Wine Glass

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Libbey Signature Kentfield Estate All Purpose Wine Glass on white background

While this glass may not wow with its design, many testers noted that simplicity was a plus when looking for a great all-purpose glass. The Libbey was designed to be all-purpose, and it delivers on that promise. Testers described it as "classic" and "universal," and rated it well for red, white, and sparkling wine.

The Libbey's large bowl makes it a good match for red and white wines that need to decant and breathe. Though the glass is relatively compact, it's still considerably taller and wider than our winning Riedel Vinum glass, but weighs in at five and a half ounces, only a half ounce more than the Riedel Vinum. For those who prefer a slightly larger glass, the longer stem and taller bowl of this one will be a plus.

The Best Budget Glass: Stolzle Eclipse Wine Glass

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Stolzle Eclipse wine glass on white background

The Stolzle Eclipse is a great budget-conscious choice for a starter set of glasses, or for anyone who needs a larger number of glasses at a decent price for an event, since they come in sets of six. A sommelier tester noted that this glass had a build very similar to that of the Libbey, only bulkier and with a significantly thicker stem. But, at roughly a third of the price per glass, this is still an excellent budget pick.

Our other sommelier unfavorably compared the stem to "cankles," but noted that otherwise the glass "hits on all points" and is a good fit for red, white, and sparkling wines. Others described the glass as "average" and "middle-ground," neither of which is bad when you're evaluating a glass for its ability to perform well in many contexts. The bulkiness of this glass does make it noticeably heavier than our other winners; it weighs in at almost seven ounces.

The Competition

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Here are a few notes on the other glasses we tested for this review:

  • Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson makes two (sort-of) all-purpose wine glasses, one for red and one for white wine. To be fair, we poured white wine into the Andrea Wine One Wine Red Wine Glass, which was specifically designed for red wine, and it stood up decently to the test. It didn’t score as well as our winners, but testers liked the shape of this glass and noted that the tapered opening contained and controlled aromas in a pleasant way. If you’re in search of an all-purpose glass and drink dramatically more red than white wine, this is a good glass for you.
  • Though we disagree on many things as an office, we all agreed that the AmazonBasics All-Purpose Wine Glasses were bad, at best. As one of our sommeliers put it: "Life is too short for this glass." It performed very poorly in nearly every category. Another tester compared its shape and build to that of a flowy, nondescript muumuu—only much less pretty.
  • Testers were put off by the very large bowl on the Spiegelau Vino Grande Burgundy Glasses. "This is a fish bowl," said one tester. While some acknowledged that it could be a good glass for red wines, it rated very low for white wine. The sommeliers described this glass as a small decanter, and explained that, while the large bowl is ideal for red wine, and even does decently with bubbles, it struggles to deliver the flavor and aroma of white.
  • The Mikasa Agena Crystal Wine Glasses scored lower than any other—even below the AmazonBasics glasses—because of their appearance. Decoratively etched crystal is definitely out of vogue, making this old-fashioned glass come across as "just like how Grandma drank," as one tester put it. While its narrow shape did relatively well with bubbles, it underperformed in every other way, stifling the aroma of both red and white wines.
  • Users noted that the Paksh Novelty Italian Red Wine Glasses felt heavy and clunky, with thick stems. The highest compliment this glass received from a sommelier was that it seemed "totally fine." Not exactly a rave review.
  • In addition to the Paksh red wine glass, we also tested the Paksh Novelty Italian White Wine Glasses. Testers disliked the balance (or lack thereof) of this glass, and noted its heaviness and clunky feel in the hand. Though the glass didn't perform terribly with any of the wines, its appearance and feel significantly detracted from its appeal.