Buying Guide: Glassware

From champagne flutes to wine glasses, ensure you're ready for all occasions with the Houseology glassware buying guide.


Buying Guides

From delicate crystal wine glasses to sturdy everyday tumblers that add a pop of colour to your kitchen table, the sheer volume of choice out there can make shopping for glassware a daunting prospect.

To help you find the perfect pieces, we’ve put together this buying guide to help you understand what to look out for and what you need to stock your kitchen and home bar.

Glassware buying guide - Chef & Sommelier glasses

01.Kinds of glassware

The materials we choose for our glassware are as important as the design – choosing carefully will ensure your glassware is fit for purpose and looks great on your table.

• Soda - Soda glass is perfect for everyday use – it’s inexpensive, dishwasher safe and durable enough for even the busiest families. Soda glass comes in a huge range of shapes and colours, from sleek tumblers to elegant wine goblets. Soda glassware works well with casual, unfussy dining styles and is a practical choice for large families and busy gatherings since it can be used again and again and is cost effective.

• Crystal - Crystal glass works well both for everyday and special occasions – it’s slightly heavier than everyday glassware but is also of a finer quality, making it a great alternative to lead crystal because you don’t have to sacrifice clarity for strength. To be classified as crystal, glass needs to contain at least 10% lead oxide – the higher the percentage, the more sparkle your glassware will have.

• Lead crystal - Lead crystal is finest glassware. Beautifully clear and weighty, lead crystal is the glassware we tend to save for special occasions. It contains at least 24% lead oxide, giving it a sparkling clarity and a rainbow of colours when light reflects through it. To be classed full lead crystal, the glass must contain between 30% and 36% lead oxide.

Glassware buying guide - wine glasses

02.Types of wine glasses

The right wine glasses can enhance the taste of the wine and bring forward its unique flavours. Whether you’re a connoisseur or simply enjoy the occasional tipple, your wine glass has the ability to elevate the whole experience. Wine glass shapes vary enormously both to create different aesthetics and to work with different wines, and it can all be a little overwhelming. As you shop, consider the key characteristics of each style of glass:

• White wine – White wine glasses are traditionally smaller and hold a lower volume to keep the wine fresh and chilled for longer. Look for a narrow mouth to help minimise oxidation and retain the aromas of the wine, helping to enhance that crisp, clean flavour.

• Red wine– Red wine glasses require a larger glass with a rounded bulb and extended stem. This special design helps the wine to breathe, amplifying the rich flavours. Bordeaux glasses have a tall, broad bowl and are shaped to direct flavour to the back of the mouth. Burgundy glasses are even broader to help accumulate aromas and direct the wine to the tip of the tongue.

• Champagne flute – Nothing denotes a special celebration like the classic shape of the champagne flute. The tall, narrow flute helps preserve the bubbles and guide the wine to the mouth of the glass, combining taste and texture in every sip.

• Sweet wine- Sweet wine glasses are specifically designed for fortified wines. The smaller, narrow glass helps direct flavour to the back of the mouth and prevents the sweetness from becoming overpowering so you can enjoy the complex flavours of the wine.

Glassware buying guide - cocktail glasses

03.Types of cocktail glasses

Cocktail glasses help you enjoy your favourite mixed masterpieces in style. Different glasses work best for different drinks so consider what you most often enjoy to maximise taste as well as design. The most popular shapes include:

• Long cocktails – Known as highballs, these tall, narrow glasses are perfect for long cocktails that have a high ratio of mixture to alcohol. They are also an ideal size for ice, making them versatile enough to be used as water glasses as well.

• Short cocktails – Short cocktail glasses, also known as flat-bottomed tumblers, work well for any cocktails or alcohol served ‘on the rocks’. The wide brim and base makes it easy to mash together ingredients before the main liquid is added.

• Martini glass – Martini glasses are among the most iconic styles of glassware, and no stylish bar set up is complete without them. The inverted cone bowl and long stem makes it possible to enjoy the aromas of the drink by placing the rim under your nose, while the long stem makes it easy to hold the glass without affecting the temperature of the cocktail inside.

Glassware buying guide - liqueur glasses

04.Types of spirit glasses

Spirit glasses vary in size and shape depending on the type of tipple you intend to enjoy. Different shapes have been specially designed to heighten the flavour of the spirit, so make sure you have the right set for your favourite spirits.

• Shot glass – A home bar essential. Shot glasses are ideal for pouring out a perfect measure or sipping on spirits with a high alcoholic content that taste best in small, short doses.

• Snifter glass – Also known as a brandy glass, a snifter glass has a short stem, wide bottom and narrow top. The narrow top traps aromas inside the glass, while the wide bottom allows the holder to warm the liquid while holding it in the palm of their hand. The clever design has another element – they are designed to hold just the right amount of liquid without spilling when placed on their side.

Glassware buying guide - beer glasses

05.Types of beer glasses

Whether you prefer lager or stout, there’s glassware that can help amplify the flavour and make your beer all the more refreshing. The most common shapes include:

• Lager glass – Lager glasses are tall, slender and slightly flared. The unique shape helps guide the fizz into a thick head and holds enough volume for the perfect pint.

• Stout glass – Stout glasses are slightly shorter than a lager glass, and are what you most commonly find in bars and pubs. This style of stout glass curves out slightly near the top rim to make it easier to grip.

• Continental – A continental glass is a stemmed glass with a large bulb shape. The half-pint capacity is ideal for Belgian beers, which are stronger and fizzier – the sophisticated shape makes it easier to savour the flavours at the ideal temperature.

• Tankard – The tankard or German stein is a stylish alternative to the classic pint glass. It’s heavy with a thick handle and holds a large volume. The traditional tankard is usually made from silver or pewter and comes with a hinged lid, though today steins are commonly lidless and made of glass.

Glassware buying guide - decanters and carafes

06.Types of decanters

Great glassware isn’t just about individual servings – it’s also worthwhile investing in a few key pieces to mix large volumes of cocktails, serve water and aerate wine.

• Jugs – A jug or pitcher is the perfect addition to your barware collection and makes for easy serving at the dinner table and typically includes a sturdy handle and spout for easy pouring. An interesting shape or design can also double as a display piece when not in use.

• Carafe – This is a decorative glass bottle used on the table for wines and doesn’t have a stopper. The shape of the container is simple and designed so that it won’t affect the characteristics of the liquid inside it.

• Decanter – Decanters are similar to carafes, typically with a wide, round bulb, narrow neck and stopper to prevent spillage. A wine decanter is shaped specially to allow red wines to breathe and can also help catch any small pieces of cork before they get poured directly into your glass. Decanters also make excellent decorative pieces for behind the bar or in the dining room on your bar cart.

Glassware buying guide - chef and sommelier open up effervescent flute

07.Buying glassware

Knowing how many glasses you need can be a challenge – you want enough to comfortably meet the demands of daily life without taking up too much valuable space in your dining room or kitchen. Think about how often you entertain and what you tend to drink – if you never serve brandy, a snifter glass won’t be a priority for you.

At a minimum, keep a glass for each place setting at your table and enough different glassware to cover water, juice, wine and beer. With your everyday glassware, it’s worthwhile keeping at least two tumbler glasses per family member so you don’t have to constantly wash glasses or run out when they are in the dishwasher. If you have children in the house, it’s also worth keeping a few extras on hand to accommodate any chips, cracks or breaks.