Breweries, Wine, and Cheese

The Grape Vine: The Art of The Wash

The best wine glass is a clean one. You may be thinking, “Hey, I wash my wine glasses!” Of course you do. But the question is how you wash them. Many national publications have set out their particular protocol for washing wine glasses. First, all agree to avoid the dishwasher. Start by soaking glasses in hot water overnight. Wine Spectator states, “Hot water is your friend.” Meanwhile, residue is your enemy so you want to rinse, rinse and then rinse again.

Bon Appetit sums up the washing process this way: “Keep your lavender dish soap far, far away.” Much like avoiding perfume at a wine tasting, you want to avoid the confusing sensory mix of scented soap and wine aromas.

Whether fruity or floral, scented soaps are equally unwanted. “A perfect glass should smell like nothing,” says Garrett Smith, the beverage director at Sushi Nakazawa in New York. Smith says he often dismisses soap altogether and relies on a hot water rinse. Unless a glass has been sitting for days with crusted wine at the bottom, the remnants should wash right out.

Coarse scrubbies be gone! Use a soft sponge, gently applying a slightly firmer touch around the rim to remove lipstick. On the rare occasion when he does use soap, Smith says, he washes by hand—no sponge. For really tough stains, the industry secret is a mix of Fixodent and hot water. Gentle enough for glasses, the mix is tough enough to erase even an Australian Shiraz.

Wine Spectator recommends a baking soda mix applied with a foamy brush designed for crystal. You can also use a touch of OxiClean diluted with hot water, Smith advises. No more than two minutes in the glass and rinse it thoroughly because, he adds, the OxiClean will leave residue also. And Molly Maid, a national cleaning service, suggests just plain vinegar.

Drip dry? No. Drying glasses upside down invites spots and cloudiness. That goes double for locations with hard water, water with a heavy mineral content. You may think you can live with a few spots. But, Smith says, those spots eventually chip away at the integrity of the glass, weakening it over time. You need a soft cloth, a lint-free napkin with a high thread count or a cloth made specifically for this purpose. Be careful not to use a twisting motion in the bowl as you risk decapitating the glass. A good old-fashioned drying rack works too.

Okay, our glasses are washed. Now what? Store glasses upright. Shelving glasses upside down runs the risk of chipping the most delicate part, the lip of the bowl. A rack for wine glasses is a good solution. You can store glasses in the original box, but not for too long because—you guessed it—a glass will take on the smell of cardboard.

If you do rely on the dishwasher to do the dirty work, leave plenty of space between glasses and wash them in a separate cycle. Open the door as soon as the cycle is over to let the steam escape. Bear in mind that repeated dishwasher use may lead to scratched, cloudy glasses.

Proper washing takes a little more time, but it’s worth it. It’s an art!

Gina Trippi is the co-owner of Metro Wines, 169 Charlotte Street in Asheville. Committed to the community, Metro Wines offers big shop selection with small shop service. Gina can be reached at or 828.575.9525.

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