Wine is delicate. By the time it reaches your glass, years of aging and maturing have passed. Unlike freshly squeezed orange juice, wine is best enjoyed after a significant amount of time has passed between squeezing the grapes and drinking it from your glass, allowing the grapes to ferment and the resulting wine to age. Made up of numerous naturally occurring and beneficial chemicals, the wine's flavor may easily be influenced by outside scents or tastes, which would likely ruin your experience.
Likewise, your beautiful crystal is especially delicate and can trap and harbor such outside influences leading to your ruined wine and experience. Not because glass is porous as is often noted, but rather due to the intricate details in how the crystal is made and its properties, which are by the same token the exact features that enhance the wine and allow you to have the most enjoyable experience possible if cared for properly.
Unlike regular glasses, crystal glasses are made by adding lead, which increases its refractive properties and makes it sparkle. Crystal glasses have a unique uneven surface inside the bowl of the glass unseen by the human eye. These microscopic sharp edges allow the wine to mix with more air when poured and when swirled, further enhancing the wine's aroma and flavors. Cleaning agents, however, can stick to the distinctive surface and interfere with the taste of your next glass of wine.
Further, detergents can contribute to leaching the silica (often the primary ingredient in glass) from the glass and inevitably result in cloudy crystal glasses, sometimes impossible to reverse. Having made the investment in fine crystal wine glass sets, you can imagine what a tragedy to have them loose their amazing clear and shimmering twinkle to a drab, cloudy appearance. This is why a touch of extra care is necessary for your crystal wine glass sets.
What to Use and What Not to Use
To maintain your beautiful investment, do not wash crystal wine glasses in the dishwasher. Only use the dishwasher for glasses that are not made from crystal. Be sure to use only a small amount of detergent and do not use the dishwasher's Heat Dry cycle. Instead, remove the glasses immediately when the wash and rinse cycles finish and air dry the glasses on a rack or clean towel.
Many dish washing liquids contain special scents and other unnatural chemicals that can remain on the crystal glasses and contaminate your next glass of wine. Use a very small amount of a very mild detergent in each glass with hot water and use a sponge. Rinse thoroughly to remove all the soap.
Washing soda mixed with hot water is often recommended for finer, delicate crystal. Baking soda has been suggested in a pinch, although it is not recommended. Soda may have absorbed several other scents from where it was stored and can transfer these to your glasses, mixing an unwanted taste with your next pour.
Often referred to as the Rinse Method, rinsing, re-rinsing and triple-rinsing your glasses with hot water and allowing them to air dry is sometimes suggested to avoid using any contaminating detergent. But hot water alone does not remove lip stick and oils on the outside of the glass. And traces of red wine can be left behind, which over time slowly stains the glasses with a subtle pink blush.
Restaurant Crystal Clean
A product developed specifically for washing your fine crystal wine glass sets, Restaurant Crystal Clean does not leave behind any soap residue or scents or tastes on your glasses. It is safe for gold rimmed glasses and dishware.
Wine Glass Brush, Sponge, Towel
An inexpensive sponge will work as well as a wine glass brush or a lint free terry towel, but be sure to set aside a specific one that you will use only on your wine glasses to avoid contamination from detergents used when washing other dishes. Sponges or brushes may be preferred since you can replace them instead of launder them because then you need to consider the laundry detergent and anything else with which the towel is laundered.
Rack, Paper Towels
To dry the glasses, it is best to use a rack where you can place the glasses upside down to air dry. We've covered the cautions of using terry towels. If you use paper towels, never wipe the inside of the bowl of the glass as they often have an odor that can transfer to the crystal. Be sure to use only paper towels that are not scented and do not have print.
Finally, and this may be the most difficult of all, it is recommended that you wash the glasses promptly and do not allow them to sit over night full of wine.