Do expensive glasses make wine taste better?

If you’ve ever really loved a wine, it’s possible that the company, the environment and maybe even the picnic rug, the sand on the beach, the beauty of the rugged mountaintop or dusky pink sunset where you drank it all contributed to its flavours, just as much as the style of the wine itself.

So, what difference does an expensive glass make to how wine tastes?

The easy answer is: a big one.

It’s pretty easy to quantify why too but fortunately great glasses don’t always cost half an arm or a leg to buy. Read on.

Earlier this year, my already extensive glass collection grew yet again when Simon Bell from MacVine International kindly gave me three different Spiegelau Authentis glasses to take for a road test to see how well they deliver on flavour, quality and price.

The first written record of Spiegelau glass production was 1521 and the company has been owned by its big brother, Riedel Glass Works, since 2004.

Like Riedel, its glasses tend to be classic traditional shapes, often without stems, more often with stems. Unlike Riedel, whose production focuses on varietal-specific glassware (Sauvignon Blanc has a specific glass, white burgundy does, and so on), Spiegelau’s glassware is tailored to the wine professional so there are fewer overall glasses.

I trialled three from the Spiegelau Authentis range. Rumour has it that this range is the preferred glassware of the Deutschland Sommelier Association. I can see why.

The Authentis glasses are elegant and fine but sturdier than many large wine  glasses, so they feel safer to use than many of my other great wine glasses, which look like they may be about to shatter if I so much as glance at them sideways.

Two of the three Authentis glasses I tried came out tops, for me. I found the white wine glass great for aromatic whites. And the Authentis Burgundy glass is now my red wine glass of choice. I found the Bordeaux glass too large, which is a personal thing. My perception is also that it accentuates hard tannins while burgundy glasses make reds seem seductively smooth and softer.

The benefits of good glasses 

Their narrow rims concentrate aromas in all wines

Fine lipped glasses bring wine in closer contact with you; the drinker

Sparkling wine has more flavour in white wine glasses than in narrow flutes

Lower priced wines tastes better from bigger glasses

Great wines also taste better from larger glasses with bigger bowls

Fuller bodied whites taste super expressive in large red glasses; try Gewurz’ in a burgundy glass

Temperature of wine makes a massive difference to its taste

Stems prevent wine from warming up – white wine is best in a stem glass

Just because you drink from a big glass, you don’t have to fill it to the brim.


Glass conclusion

Like any wine lover, I have sometimes spent excessive amounts on good glasses, and have been given more than my fair share of crazy looking ones.

Glasses with hollow stems, thin stems, no stems, precariously fine stems. Deep glasses, shallow ones, tiny ones, a pair that could take an entire bottle per glass… Lead crystal glass, recycled, coloured, clear, black glass.

You name it, I’ve tried it. Many of the best have been Riedel, thanks to the excellent job the Austrian glass manufacturer Georg Riedel does in comparing and contrasting the same wine in different glasses to show the difference good glasses can make. And there is no doubt about it – a well chosen glass can be the biggest investment you can make in your wine experience, but having a specific different glass for every style of wine all gets a little too exacting, for me.


The verdict on Spiegelau Authentis

These glasses cost a fraction of the price of many flash wine glasses. They are slightly smaller with shorter stems, slightly thicker rims (though still fine) and  feel sturdier. This makes me relaxed and confident using them as everyday glassware as well as for professional tasting.

Find out more and buy the glasses from


PS: Why wait for the weekend to drink wine out of great glasses?

It’s like wearing uncomfortable shoes for five days and your most comfortable ones only on special occasions.

As the old adage goes, today is the special occasion.

Clean glasses

Streaks and smears are part of every wine lover’s nightmare. Hand polishing often results in cracks and breakage, so it was with a mixture of cynicism and hope that I tried out The Gourmet’s Choice (TGC), which promises to make glasses as clean as a whistle, so to speak.

One squirt in the dishwasher works wonders – as long as the dishwasher is clean, as I discovered when it wasn’t.

TGC is 100% biodegradable and available online at

Author: Joelle Thomson

I am a wine writer, author and educator... first bitten by a big buttery Chardonnay on a dark and stormy night in the 1980s and there was no turning back... Follow my tastings and join some too on this new site.

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