Crystal or glass wine glass?

In the worlds of indulgent pleasures, people can obsess over the accouterments. Wine glasses (stemware) break into that territory. Standard glass or crystal?

First, what’s the difference? In simple terms, most manufactured standard glass is made with silica, the primary constituent of sand. Crystal is a sub-category of manufactured glass that contains minerals (up to 40%).

The addition of minerals makes crystal much stronger than regular glass. That allows crystal stemware to be very thin, especially at the rim. Standard glass is not as strong, thus the glass is thicker, and usually there is a thickened bulge around the rim to add strength.

Lead is the mineral in most crystal stemware, although there is lead-free crystal. There is minimal risk from the lead. Wine would have to be exposed in crystal stemware for at least a week for any lead to leach into the wine. A surpassingly unlikely event.

Features of crystal stemware:

• Refracts light, is sparkly, presents wine well.

• Can be very thin on the rim; improves feel of the vessel on your lips and mouth.

• Usually is not dishwasher safe; is porous and can pick up dishwasher chemical smells; hand wash.

• Usually expensive.

Features of glass stemware:

• Usually more affordable than crystal.

• Usually is dishwasher safe; it is non-porous and does not pick up dishwasher chemical smells.

• Does not refract light well; wine visually looks duller than it does in crystal.

• Thicker than crystal; usually has a reinforced rim which detracts from lip and mouthfeel.

Bottom lines:

• If running a dishwasher is your thing; you break things frequently; you enjoy party-hardy wine drinking—go with standard glass.

• If hand-washing is no big deal; you want the wine to present at its best to your eyes, lips, and mouth; you enjoy finer things in life—go with crystal.

Interesting note: While a thinner rim on stemware improves wine, a thicker rim on a mug improves coffee.

Tasting notes:

• Trivento Maximum Red Blend Reserve Mendoza 2019: Value wine with an assertive darker-fruit attack. Decant. $11-15 Link to my review

• Poliziano Rosso di Montepulciano 2019: Soft, easy drinker. Felicitous aromas are a key feature to go along with the ripe black and red fruits. $17 Link to my review

• Priest Ranch Grenache Blanc, Napa Valley 2019: Fresh, zingy acidity, beeswax texture you want from a quality grenache blanc. $21 Link to my review

Last round: What do you call a fat psychic? A four-chin teller. My crystal ball indicates this is funnier after your second glass of wine.