Crystal 101- An Essential Guide

CRYSTAL WISHES-There is a silence in front of our crystal glass display when we show new customers the depth of our selection for the first time. The stillness is usually broken with a flick of a finger and the wonderful sound that only the crystal bowl of a wine glass can make. From there a discussion starts about family, demystifying crystal and the story behind each of our much-loved brands. Here are the answers to the questions you have asked most frequently over the years. Call it a quick guide or a simple brush up for all you crystal connoisseurs. Enjoy! Scroll to the bottom for a compilation of our favourite watering holes in T.O.


What are the most important crystal glasses to own? You will need a larger stem for red wine, a smaller for white wine, a highball and an old-fashioned glass. Depending on your aesthetics you can choose a champagne glass in the same pattern as the wine glasses- this is not essential. Mixing and matching flutes can be big fun! If you are setting a more formal table, a footed water glass is the way to go and if you are in a smaller space choose a stem to use for both white and red. Think of your favourite wine and what glass you would like to drink it in- times that by the number on your guest list and you are ready for the party.

I was drying my wine glass and the bowl came away from the stem, what happened? A wine glass bowl is attached to the stem at the end of the process of making the glass. This invisible seam is one of the most delicate parts of the object. When hand drying, turning the bowl and the stem in opposite directions is the reason for this break. We recommend taking the stems out of your dishwasher still steaming. While holding the bowl in between your fingers, wipe gently with a cloth, then grasp the stem and polish the base. The dazzle will be worth the work!


Why is there such a big difference in the price of glasses that look virtually the same? Take, for example, the Riedel Vinum collection as opposed to the Sommelier line. From far they look indistinguishable but on closer inspection there is a lightness to the weight of the Sommelier glasses and if you spend some time looking at each individual glass, you will see that they are all unique. This is because the Sommelier collection is mouth blown and crafted by hand whereas the Vinum variety is made by machine. Both are excellent wine specific glasses.Crystal glass prices can also vary by the region that they are made in (the Orient versus Europe) and can vary in clarity (the more clear the steeper the price).


Single or double old-fashioned? Scotch has made a comeback in the last five years.Lismore by Waterford is an old-school classic. The smaller single old-fashioned is perfect for a neat and tidy whiskey straight up, whereas the double old-fashioned can take a couple of ice cubes and a splash of seltzer. If you are looking to use the glasses for mixed drinks then the double old-fashioned is your best bet.

Can I put crystal in the dishwasher? Yes, most crystal is dishwasher safe. We recommend the lightest cycle and half the suggested detergent (preferably liquid). Do not overcrowd your machine and use the crystal rack for longer stems. Cloudiness over time is extremely rare and is usually due to water softeners or detergent residue.


What should I look for in a cognac glass? The most popular vessel for cognac is a snifter and it should fit easily in the palm of your hand without being too heavy or too light. There is also another school of thought for this liqueur. A small-stemmed glass not unlike a grappa glass (but fatter) concentrates the aroma and gives you the full taste of your investment. Why not mark your signature after dinner drink with a signature glass- perhaps an icewine stem to cool down a spring party?


What’s up with lead? Lead gives crystal clarity and strength. Crystal is made of the finest quality silica (sand) plus lead oxide and potash. Drinking from a crystal glass is not only safe it’s beautiful. FYI -ordinary glass contains higher amounts of impurities like sodium which reduces clarity.

Do I need a wine decanter? It is one of the most useful items you will invest in. It helps to aerate the wine and makes a lovely presentation at the table. We recommend washing with soapy water on the outside and rinsing with plain water on the inside. If you are seeing some residue build up, try the metal spheres available by Riedel. Swirl- rinse- and re-use.

The proof is in the sipping! Here is a list of our favourite neighborhood watering holes in T.O.

  1. La Societe
  2. Cafe Nervosa
  3. D Bar at The Four Seasons
  4. The Roof Lounge at The Park Hyatt
  5. Bar Raval (a little farther but well worth it!)
  6. The One Eighty