How clean are your wine glasses?

Wine glasses (Photo: Getty Images)

Dust, airborne-oil from cooking, detergent residues and tainted tea towels can all have an impact on wine expression.The cleanliness of your glassware, or lack thereof, can have a major impact on the expression of a wine. But just what constitutes clean?

From my experience, glassware picks up taints exceedingly quickly. Dust, airborne-oil from cooking, detergent residues and tainted tea towels can all have an impact on wine expression.

I am not exaggerating when I say that these taints can completely destroy a wine, masking the aromatics and stripping the taste. In addition, they are distracting and annoying, and certainly not what you want when you are serving quality wine.

The worst offenders are Champagne flutes, which sit in the cupboard accumulating dust for extended periods and then get whipped out in a flurry of excitement. Within an instant, the celebratory fizz is ruined.

To protect the delicate rim of your glassware, it is best to store them upright.If space allows, I advise storing your glassware in a room other than the kitchen, except of course for those glasses that get washed daily. This will prevent cooking vapours settling inside the bowl of the glass, which seems to happen even if the cupboard doors are closed.

To protect the delicate rim of your glassware, it is best to store them upright. In-cupboard wine racks, where the glasses hang upside down, is another great option. I don’t recommend under-cupboard racks as dust can settle on the outside of the glasses if they are not used regularly.

Storing delicate glassware in their storage boxes is tempting but beware that the glasses will need washing before use to remove the all-pervasive cardboard smell.

What about cleaning? I use the top rack of my dishwasher for most of my glassware, though if I wash by hand, I make sure I rinse well in hot water then dry and shine with a lint-free cloth.

If you are having a dinner party or hosting a wine tasting, washing the glasses the day of the event is the best way to go. Or the day before at most.

And the same goes for decanters. In addition to washing and rinsing with water before use, I also rinse with a little of the wine I am decanting, just to be extra vigilant.

Now I know it sounds boring but always wash your wine glasses at the end of the night. Otherwise, they may stain. Though if this all seems way too hard, at least give them a rinse. This is particularly important for decanters, which can be hard to clean. Though if you do have some stubborn stains, a soda water soak can do wonders.


3 thoughts on “How clean are your wine glasses?”

  1. Tim W says:

    Jump online and buy Riedel Microfibre Cleaning Towels. They’re not too expensive and if you treasure your wines (and Sommelier glasses in my case) use these. Simply superb!

    As for the decanter, buy Riedel Cleaning Beads. Simple and very effective.

    One problem I do have, is removing a steam-like stain from one of my decanters. Suggestions anyone?

  2. Ernest Jones says:

    After reading this article, I wonder whether it is worth having guide as to what type of cleaning agent should be used. A fellow wine consumer used to wash his decanters with one of the mouth wash products which he felt gave the best results.

  3. Larry Jacobs says:

    Major problem at cellar door with horrible taint form tea-towels (washing soaps used for tea-towels being the worst problem) , glass washers, all regular possibilities. Have to regularly nose a few random glass to keep on top of this!

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