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As early as the fifth century, animal horns and sturdy pottery were used as wine glasses. Fortunately, there are no shortages of quality glasses available today.

But for many, selecting the right glass can be as confusing as shopping for wine to pour in it.

The choices — stemmed or stemless, goblets or flutes, wide or narrow bowl, clear glass, frosted or colored glass — can be overwhelming.

But finding the perfect glass is not as complicated as you think. Just as with wine, there are no official rules, but taking the time to consider a few guidelines and learning how to care for glassware may increase your enjoyment of wine.

The type of glass affects wine in several ways.

  • If the glass is clear and clean it displays the wine’s color, an important part of the appreciation of wine.
  • A stemmed glass is not just for looks but offers a place to hold the glass without warming the bowl or leaving smudge marks.
  • The bowl size allows aromas their optimal expression.

Fragile, fragrant and delicate wines such as Champagne need a small bowl and narrow body to enhance the flowing bubbles.

White-wine glasses, though larger than champagne flutes, are smaller to enhance the fragrance and their narrow rims help the wine stay cool longer.

Red-wine glasses with large, round bowls and wide rims allow more contact with air, something usually needed to fully appreciate powerful, robust styles.

Price is an obvious consideration but don’t forget about space. If space and budget are not an issue, there are hundreds of styles and sizes available, even specially designed glasses for specific wines.

But for most of us, a serviceable set would include globe or balloon-shaped glasses for red wines, tulip-shaped glasses for whites and flutes for champagnes.

Although most modern wine glasses are dishwasher safe, washing them in the dishwasher may hurt the wine. Minuscule trappings of detergent mar the aromas and appearance of a wine. Also, “rinse aids” may add to the problem. The best method for cleaning wine glasses is simply a soft cloth and hot water with no detergent.

Of course, in some instances, use of a mild detergent may be desired, such as when there’s lipstick or greasy fingerprints that water alone won’t wash away. Simply use a brush and mild detergent then clean with hot water. To avoid water spots, use a soft, lint-free cloth to hand dry.