(Editor’s Note: Vinesse Wine Steward Katie Montgomery offers tips of caring for your wine glasses.)
How you wash and care for your wine glasses has a direct effect on how the wine that you pour in them tastes.
As one who samples more than a thousand different wines each year, I’ve always been aware of this. And I was reminded of the importance of glassware when I attended a food-and-wine pairing event recently at a major department store.
The lineup of wines was stellar – a Sauvignon Blanc, a Chardonnay, a Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon, all from a well-respected producer in Sonoma County.
Alas, when the Sauvignon Blanc was poured to accompany an exquisite crab cake, something was amiss. Instead of aromas of lemon or grapefruit or just-mown grass, all I could smell was dish detergent. An effort had been made to clean the glasses, but the rinsing process had left something to be desired – or, more accurately, undesired.
I asked for a replacement glass, but it, too, had a soapy smell. It was apparent that all of the glasses had been washed similarly, probably in one of those restaurant-style industrial dishwashers.
By pure coincidence, I happened to be transporting a half-dozen glasses from the Vinesse clubhouse to my home that day, so I trudged out to my car and brought back a pair. The server gave me a fresh pour of Sauvignon Blanc, and what a difference: It smelled and tasted like… Sauvignon Blanc! The evening was saved for this admittedly picky wine taster.
The proper care of stemware is very important. I like to say that a perfectly clean glass adds to the wine-drinking experience by not detracting from it. With that in mind, here are a few glass care tips…
1. Don’t use the dishwasher. Even the finest machines leave some trace residue that may create a faint odor.
2. Don’t use soap. Wash the glasses with warm to hot water, and rinse them with cool water. Sometimes a cleaning agent is needed to remove red wine stains. If you must use a cleaning agent, make sure it’s mild. Obviously, steel or wool pads should be avoided, unless your aim is to add an “artsy,” scratched-up, well-used look to the glass.
3. Dry the glasses with a lint-free cloth. There are special microfiber towels on the market that work beautifully.
4. If you have a glass that’s already “foggy,” soak it in white vinegar for a few hours, then wash it thoroughly with warm water.
5. Wash glasses only in the morning. It’s never a good idea to wash them right after you’ve been drinking because the stems snap easily and accidents do happen.