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Buying Guide to Glassware


From juice tumblers to champagne flutes, we give you the lowdown on how to select the perfect set of glassware.

Image of glassware

What type of glassware are you looking for?

Styles Consists of
  • Juice glasses
  • Cold beverage tumblers
  • Wine glasses
  • Flutes
  • Martini glasses
  • High balls
  • Double old-fashioned
  • Beer mugs

What kind of craftsmanship and price range are you looking for?

The sheer volume of glassware available can leave even the savviest shopper feeling overwhelmed. Use this chart to determine whether glass or crystal is right for you.

  Available in Made from Type of dinnerware it goes with... Type of care required
  • Everyday
  • Stemware
  • Barware
Sand, ash and limestone. Everyday should only be used with earthenware or stoneware. Barware and stemware can also be used with porcelain or bone china. Most glassware is dishwasher-safe, but check the manufacturer's instructions. Prevent damage by always placing glassware on the top rack.
  • Stemware
  • Barware
Sand, ash, limestone and lead oxide. The addition of lead oxide gives the crystal weight and sparkle. Typically crystal is 24% lead oxide, but half crystal (which is clearer and lighter in weight) is only 18%. Porcelain and bone china. Hand wash with ammonia or lemon juice and store upright for safekeeping.

Crystal is a high-end option that sparkles and shines and is usually brought out for special occasions.

Although there are many styles on the market, it's craftsmanship that's typically going to determine price. Not surprisingly, mouth blown glassware is more expensive than hand-pressed or hand-molded pieces, both of which cost more than factory-made options.

What kind of dishes do you own?

There are bound to be several glassware designs that catch your eye. Avoid getting overwhelmed: narrow down your choices by looking for glasses that complement your dishes. Casual dinnerware should be paired with casual glassware, and high-end china deserves something special. That said, don't be afraid to mix and match design aesthetic.

How many glasses do you need?

You can buy glasses solo, or in sets. Sets typically come with 4-16 glasses. Some feature a specific style (e.g. white wine glasses), but you can also purchase variety packs (e.g. a beginner's barware set). Depending on what beverages you drink and how often you entertain, you may want glassware to cover all the bases (water, juice, wine, beer). At a minimum, have a glass for each place setting (five place settings require five glasses). However, when it comes to everyday glassware, you probably want several extra sets on-hand so you don't end up spending the day washing glasses. And if you have children, you will always need an extra few glasses. You can probably guess why.