The best way to wash wine glasses, according to the pros

Plus, a secret weapon to make them really shine.

Published December 21, 2019 6:59PM (EST)

 (Rocky Luten/Food52)
(Rocky Luten/Food52)

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If you’re this season's chosen hostess, you’ve probably been diligently cleaning, organizing, and planning for this year's big holiday party (or a series of mini ones), checking items off your to-do list one by one. But is “cleaning wine glasses” on that list? If not, it totally should be.

There’s nothing more frustrating than realizing mid-party that all your stemware (and even those glasses sans stems) have water spots on them — ultimately harmless, but definitely ruining the aesthetic appeal of a perfectly poured glass of vino. To help you get your glasses polished to perfection and ready at short notice for any event, we turned to expert Melanie Wynne for advice.

Melanie is the marketing and PR coordinator for Moshin Vineyards in Sonoma County's Russian River Valley, and has a ton of wine glass-cleaning experience from the time she spent working in a boutique wine tasting room. At last count, she had cleaned at least 3000 glasses! We think it’s safe to say she knows her stuff.

The dishwasher is your friend

Don’t believe the myth that you can’t put wine glasses in the dishwasher. Melanie says it’s actually the best way to go for a thorough clean.

However, you’ll want to first check the care instructions on your wine glasses to see if they’re dishwasher safe — most are, but some have specific instructions attached. For instance, Riedelcrystal, one of the top names in the stemware industry, is safe for the dishwasher, but they recommend using only a particular brand of appliance.

“To ensure that our glasses are cleaned gently, we specifically recommend that they are washed in a Miele dishwasher. This produces better results than washing them by hand,” says CEO Maximilian Riedel on the company website.

No matter what kind of glasses you’re washing, you’ll want to place them carefully in the stemware rack, making sure they’re not touching any other metal or glass, which can cause scratches.

Further, Melanie recommends using a specific setting to prolong the lifespan of your glasses: “Be sure to use the air-dry setting, as the heat-dry setting may dull your wine glasses over time.”

When in doubt, wash by hand

If your wine glasses aren’t dishwasher safe or you’re just nervous to put them in the dishwasher — perhaps you have a vintage set you inherited from grandma — you should probably wash them by hand.

“If you wash your glasses by hand, hold each glass by the bowl — rather than the more delicate stem — low in the sink, swirling water over the whole glass and using only a minuscule amount of dishwashing liquid on the outside, including the rim,” says Melanie.

Top tip: Dry them immediately. “No matter how you clean your glasses, water spots are likely, but you'll discourage them if you dry your glasses as soon as humanly possible,” she continues.

Meet your secret weapon: microfiber towels

Any wine expert will tell you the difference between a clean-ish wine glass and a brilliant one is polishing, as this step will remove any water spots or blemishes that have formed, helping the glass to really shine. And when it comes to polishing wine glasses, there's nothing quite like a microfiber cloth.

“Use two microfiber towels to dry and polish your glasses,” explains Melanie. Buy yourself a large pack online; it'll come in handy for other household cleaning tasks as well.

Pay attention now, because we’re going to share her tried-and-true technique for the perfect polish: “Hold onto the glass's base with one towel-covered hand, and the bottom of the glass's bowl with the other. Turn gently in one direction and rub lightly on any water spots.”

“If you have grappa (clear grape brandy) at home, always keep a little in a spray bottle,” she shares as a hot tip. “Use it on any lipstick marks or dark wine stains. This will clean your glasses without adding any unwanted flavors or odors.”

With these tips & tricks up your sleeve, your stemware is bound to shine like never before. Now where's that grappa...

By Camryn Rabideau

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