Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
I have Riedel glasses, and I want to keep them pristine. I’m afraid to put them in the dishwasher even though the box says they are dishwasher-safe. I have tried washing them by hand in a solution of warm water, dish soap and vinegar. I air-dry them because I broke one at the lip when drying by hand one time, and now I’m scared of breaking another. I use a cotton dishcloth to try to gently get the remaining spots and smears, but I can’t seem to get the glasses crystal-clear again.
—Lori, Fresno, Calif.
I feel your pain! I’ve broken my share of glasses, but I can share some tips I’ve picked up over the years.
Wineglasses are usually dishwasher-safe—as long as you leave plenty of space around the glasses and they aren’t going to bang into anything. Depending on your dishwasher set-up, you might need to invest in some inserts to keep the glasses secure; a pack of four should cost about $5.
But it's generally safer to hand-wash, and I just use the smallest amount of soap (or none at all) and lots of hot water. Even though vinegar is a good trick to keep glass sparkly in general, I don’t think it’s a great idea here—I’d hate for any residual vinegar to interfere with how your wine tastes. For stubborn stains, I like a little bit of abrasion with either a sponge or some baking soda, which won’t scratch.
When it comes to drying, remember to never hold the stem in one hand and twist the bowl with the other. Trust me, wine glasses don’t like to be twisted at their weak point. I can imagine a cotton cloth might leave lint. I like to use a linen towel, but there are polishing microfiber cloths specifically for wine glasses; they run about $10 a piece.
Whatever cloth you are using for polishing, remember to wash it in non-smelly soap and never use fabric softener, which might leave an odor and greasy residue on your glasses. Good luck!