Rent or buy: wine glasses for parties

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Ray Isle has an cute article called “Holiday Wine Survival Guide” in the December issue of Food & Wine, which landed with a thud in my mailbox on Saturday. He offers many tips for the holidays including how much wine to have on hand (whoa, Ray, invite me over and send for the F&W stretch hummer afterward!), wine gifts, and some tips for temperature.

He also brings up the issue of renting or buying glasses for a big party. The appeal of renting is easy: it’s can be less than $1 a stem and you can often return the glasses unwashed. But then there’s the downside: generally poor glass quality, potentially high minimum charges for delivery, and, obviously, you’ve got nothing to show for your expenditure when the party’s over.

So break out the rent or buy calculators! My own calculations were just about finished when I saw that Ray recommended a decent-looking $3.95 stem from Crate and Barrel. But then I saw that it said “hand wash.” Whoa! Talk about a buzzkill cleaning several dozen glasses! I’ve had good luck with the Tritan Forte, which can be found for under $10 a stem, goes in the dishwasher, and is impact resistant (note: NOT break-proof).

What do you do for glasses at parties?

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5 Responses to “Rent or buy: wine glasses for parties”


  1. For regular parties, Ikea stems can cost a dollar a piece.

    For bocce night, picnics and outdoor parties, we have a set of free branded tasting glasses that store nicely in a 12 pack beer box. These, we store in the garage.

    Since we entertain so much, our group of St. Helena friends shares a roving collection of platters, nicer wine glasses and baskets.

    However, there’s something about putting that crate of dirty rented glasses outside that’s so appealing — no washing!


  2. I use my huge collection of wine-tasting glasses (over 200.) I have so many that if one breaks, it’s no big deal. And it’s a great conversation starter when people get to talking about all the winery’s. Most people choose the wineries that they have been too, or like the wine from. And they get a nice selection of sizes and weights to choose from. I have huge bulbous glasses from Churon all the way down to little glasses from Gainey. And it makes it easy to tell your wine from someone elses. All in all, it solves all the glass dilemmas you may have. The only downside is the presentation. If it’s for a dinner, I don’t put the glasses at the table. I create a seperate table or area for the glasses and the wine. Once everyone sits down for food and drink, you don’t even notice the glasses don’t match. :) Cheers!


  3. When we were doing large wine parties, we did a bit of both, rented for BIG parties, as the washing aspect overwhelmed all other considerations, even the glass quality.
    But for real wining, prefer the larger ones u can find at Import shops like Pier One.
    But primary principle learned long ago, clean em the next day, breakage factor much too high if you try right after a party. Assuming “party” means a real party…


  4. Helen Jane – I like your style! A friend just offered me some of his glasses for an upcoming party. Very nice indeed.

    Chelsie – sounds like good memories to share with your friends!

    Tom – next day may indeed be best. But it is awful to walk into the kitchen in the morning and have it full of leftover yesterday.


  5. Buy! at IKEA you can get 18 glasses: 6 white, 6 red (okay, they’re small and not great, but functional) and six tumbler (or Spanish wine bar style) for $9 total. That’s a half buck a glass. Get 10 packs of those, or 180 glasses for ninety bucks and they come nicely boxed to be easily repacked for future use.


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