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Washing Stemware and Wine Glasses

You?ve just finished your first successful wine tasting party and your guests have all left. As you revel in your superior party-throwing skills, you look around and see nothing but empty wine glasses with that little pool of leftover wine inside. What should you do next? First of all, it?s best to wash your wine glasses immediately after use. So, what?s the proper way to wash your precious stemware anyway? Whether you have fine, expensive crystal or inexpensive everyday stemware, you should follow a few simple steps to properly care for your wine glasses.

The best thing to do is to wash your stemware by hand. Detergents and soaps can leave behind filmy residues that will affect the smell and taste of your next glass of Bordeaux. If you must use liquid dish soap, make sure it is very mild with no added scents, like lemon. Use a drop of soap in each wine glass and clean with either your fingers or a new sponge. Sponges are generally the dirtiest thing in the kitchen, so don?t use one that you just used to clean up that spilled chicken broth with.

Instead of soap, you might try using baking or washing soda. These products won?t leave a nasty film inside your wine glasses. Washing soda can be found in the detergent section of your local market, but make sure they don?t have any scents either. No matter what you choose to clean your wine glasses with, make sure you rinse them thoroughly several times in hot water.

Of course, if you prefer not using detergents at all to ensure that your stemware is never sullied by the presence of cleaning products, you can simply rinse your wine glasses out with plain hot water. Just make sure that you rinse them out over and over again before drying. If caked on wine has dried at the bottom of your wine glasses, simply fill them with hot water and let them sit for a while to loosen the residue, then rinse them out thoroughly.

When drying your stemware you can either air dry them or dry them by hand. Some say that air drying allows impurities from the water to collect on the sides of the wine glass, whereas others say that drying them by hand can leave behind particles from the towel. If you air dry, just make sure that you turn the glasses upside-down and place them on a dry, clean towel. You might also want to dry the bottom of the stem prior to turning it upside-down so the water doesn?t pool and leave a stain. If you hand dry, make sure you use a soft, dry, clean, lint-free towel. Hold the stem of the wine glass and dry the foot first, then the outside of the bowl, and finally the inside. Be careful not to break the wine glass by forcing your hand inside the bowl.

It?s not generally recommended that you use the dishwasher to clean your crystal or even your cheap wine glasses. Dishwasher detergents are very harsh and the violent agitation inside the dishwasher can chip or break your stemware as they rattle against each other. However, if you simply must use the dishwasher, try using less detergent than normal and don?t wash them with your greasy pots and pans. Avoid using the heat dry option so that residual detergent doesn?t ?bake? onto your wine glasses. It?s best to remove the wine glasses just after the cycle is complete and hand dry them.

If you own fine crystal you must take extra care to keep them in proper condition. Crystal is more porous than your regular glassware and can absorb all sorts of tastes and odors. Whether it?s soap, detergent, chlorine, or even coffee aromas from a shared kitchen cabinet, crystal absolutely must be hand washed. If you really want to be sure your crystal stays clean and taste-free, try washing or rinsing them with distilled water rather than regular tap water.

For heavy stains that might build up in your wine glasses over time from heavy red wine use, you can try using a denture cleaner tablet every once in awhile to remove those stubborn stains. Just remember to rinse them thoroughly with hot water afterwards.

Taking these simple steps to clean your stemware properly will give you years of enjoyment without having to buy a new set of wine glasses every year.

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