It is a common myth that it’s best to wash stemmed drinking glasses by hand. A lot of people believe that dishwashers turn glasses cloudy, or can break wine glasses in the wash. This is a hangover (pun intended) from a time when dishwashers weren’t as sophisticated as they’ve become in recent years, and before products such as Finish Shine and Protect were introduced to prevent glass cloudiness. Since all glasses are different however, they can’t be washed in the same way. The many different variations in shapes, size and thicknesses need to be reflected in approach you take, as the way you position, stack and order glasses will help ensure their safety and avoid breakages.
Our simple guide below investigates the reason that there is so much variation in some of these drinking glasses, as well as providing some tips on how to ensure they can be washed safely and effectively.
There are two types of wine glass: red and white wine glasses. Red wine glasses have a broad and round bowl and a short stem. By contrast, white wine glasses are longer and narrower. This is because a red requires more space to circulate and react with the air, smoothing out complex flavours, whereas a white requires a glass that inhibits oxidisation, to preserve the subtler nuanced flavours.
As with all drinking glasses it is important to load wine glasses onto the top rack, away from any other dishes. To accommodate the white wine glasses it may be necessary to lower the rack to make space for their longer stems, a feature available on many modern dishwashers. It is also important to ensure they are not touching each other, as this could cause them to crack as they knock together, so keep the clinking for the toasts.
The Martini glass came about in the early 20th century, as an evolution of the often confused cocktail glass. They were designed much like the wine glasses, to control oxidisation. The conical shape and obtuse profile of the bowl gives the gin maximum exposure to the air, this allows the flavours to open up and the complex botanicals to be discerned. One explanation takes a slightly different route however, claiming that the glasses came out of prohibition, as if a speakeasy was raided, it only took a slight flick of the wrist to dispose of any incriminating liquids.
Martini or cocktail glasses need to be washed carefully, since they have an even longer and more delicate stem than their wine counterparts, so lowering the top rack to create more space is a must. It’s also very important to make sure you space them out well to ensure they have enough space to move without making contact with any other objects.
The short stem of the brandy glass combined with a large surface area means that the alcohol contained within starts to evaporate much more quickly, this combined with the sides curving means that the bowl fills up with the brandy’s aroma, allowing you to get the full hit of flavour.
Because of their design, they can be washed more like red wine glasses. There’s no need to lower the top rack, but as their low centre of gravity makes them prone to sliding around, be sure to give them enough space to avoid them knocking against other glasses in the dishwasher.
Crystal glass was originally made by replacing the calcium content of glass with lead, and a piece has been found dating from 1400BC.
When it comes to crystal glasses it is best to check with the specific manufacturers. Different manufactures recommend different dishwasher specifications for their glasses. Some may specify that their glasses are too thin for a dishwasher, whereas others say it is safe to wash on a cycle that keeps the temperature below 150°F. It’s important when washing crystal to use a mild detergent, and Dartington Crystal and Villeroy & Boch both recommend Finish detergent for dishwasher use (follow manufacturer directions).
So there you have it, now you know what glass is what, it’s time to invite round some family and friends to test them all out. Just make sure you enjoy these drinking glasses responsibly! Cheers!