How to Clean Wine Glasses Properly | Wine Enthusiast
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How to Clean Wine Glasses Properly, According to Wine Professionals

Yes, what type of wine glass you use matters—and so does its cleanliness.

Whether you drink from fancy stemware or affordable Ikea finds, it’s important to keep your wine glasses clean and crystal-clear. Stains and residue from soap or previous pours can alter the appearance and aromas of your wine, which will affect how you perceive its color, scent and taste.

“You don’t want anything to distort the wine in your glass,” says Regina Jones Jackson, CSW, FWS. She’s the owner and principal wine consultant of Corks and Cuvée wine shop in Atlanta. “What you’re seeing in the glass will tell you a lot about the wine itself. If you have a little film or it’s not quite clean enough, all of that is going in your wine.”

“It’s just like why you’d want a clean car,” adds Anna-Christina Cabrales, Wine Enthusiast’s Tasting Director. “You and others will enjoy the journey more.”

So, what’s the best way to keep your glasses in peak condition? Sommeliers, wine buyers and other wine professionals share their strategies.

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How to Handwash Wine Glasses

For many glasses, a sponge and unscented soap will do the trick.

“At home, I wash all my glasses by hand,” says Sarah Goler, wine director at Tannat Market and Tavern in New York City. “I just use dish soap and a sponge.”

If your stemware is fragile, however, you might want to use specific tools. Here’s how to use our most-loved cleaning supplies to keep your glassware in mint-condition.

1. Choose the Right Cleaning Liquid

Though soap and water can do the trick in a pinch, certain reagents can leave your glassware vulnerable to streaking and odors that can alter your next glass of vino. For gentle washing, opt for a special liquid that caters to your glassware’s needs.

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Stem Shine Glassware Cleaning Liquid For Hand Washing (16 oz)

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2. Choose the Right Brush

Ditch the sponge for a cleaning brush specifically made to clean stemware safely. Jackson uses a cleaning brush and recommends “doing a circular motion from the base all the way up.”

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Wine Enthusiast Interchangeable Glassware Cleaning Brush 5-pc Set

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3. Air-dry or Hand-dry?

After she washes her glasses, Goler air dries them, but she warns that could result in faint droplet stains, depending on the mineral content of your water. So, Rabot recommends you dry glasses right after you clean them.

Those pesky spots may not alter a wine’s taste, but they will obscure its color. Jackson suggests polishing your glasses with a microfiber cloth right after you wash.

“Polishing cloths really, really help to make sure there are no streaks on there,” says Jackson. “I use them to dry my glasses so they look very nice, clean and almost sparkling.”

Use a gentle hand here.

“When I’m drying, I hold the stem and never the base of the wine glass,” says Olzewski, who uses a microfiber cloth on her glasses right after she washes them. “Holding the base can result in breakage, and I’ve seen some really insane restaurant accidents involving broken stems.”

Your safety is more valuable than any stemware.

Wine Enthusiast Recommends:

Microfiber Glassware Drying Towels With Hand Pockets

Get rid of those pesky glassware smudges for good. This quick-drying microfiber towel features two stitched pockets for your hands so you can dry and polish glasses and decanters to a sparkling finish without leaving fingerprints.

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For those who prefer to air-dry, avoid placing delicate glasses upside down on a metal rack or rough surface. Instead, handle your glassware with care using a sturdy drying rack.

Wine Enthusiast Foldable 12-Glass Stemware Drying Rack

Designed for convenience and spot-free results, our foldable stemware drying rack sits securely on your countertop and can hold up to a dozen stemmed wine glasses. Once dry, it can be easily tucked away in your cabinet or storage drawer until your next sipping occasion.

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Can You Wash Wine Glasses In the Dishwasher?

If your wine glasses are on the hardier side, it’s absolutely okay to put them in the dishwasher, says Victor Rabot, fine wine buyer at Sotheby’s Wine. “I run mine with soap, so there’s no bad aroma left in the glass,” he says.

The key is to load them carefully, preferably in the top rack where they’ll jostle less.

“Place glasses securely upside down, without allowing them to touch dishes or one another to avoid scratching,” wrote Tammie Teclemariam and Marguerite Preston in The Wirecutter. “Some dishwashers come with clips on the racks that you can use to secure glasses by the stem.”

If your glasses are too tall for the upper rack, you might be able to lower it. If the dishwasher racks aren’t adjustable, simply load glasses into the lower rack where they won’t touch any other dishes or glasses.

Wine Enthusiast Recommends:

Wine Wash® 3-Piece Glassware Cleaning Accessories Set – Exclusive Bundle

This 3-piece bundle is perfect for those looking to wash their glasses in a pinch. For dishwasher users, the WineWash attachment helps keep your wine glasses upright to  unwanted clatter during a cycle. Plus, the colorful bottle-shaped sponge sponge and fun cotton towel make a perfect accessory to your hand-cleaning lineup.

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