Wine Glass 101: Crystal Wine Glasses vs. Glass

Posted on 19/02/20

Wine Glass 101: Crystal Wine Glasses vs. Glass

What’s the difference between glass, crystal, and lead-free crystal wine glasses? Why does it matter? Gabriel-Glas would like to clarify the differences between the three, explain why we make lead-free crystal stemware, and demonstrate the benefits of Gabriel-Glas over alternative types of glasses.


What differentiates glass from crystal and crystal from lead-free crystal?

What is glass?

“Glass” is a generic name for any drinking vessel, and both crystal and lead-free crystal are subcategories of “glass.”  So, all crystal is glass but not all glass is crystal! Glass, in its simplest form, is created from sand, soda, ash, and limestone and melted together at extremely high heat. Glass, with just these components, is less expensive to produce than crystal or lead-free crystal, but it is thick, clunky, heavy, and breakable.

What is crystal?

“Crystal” contains the same components as glass but must contain at least 24% lead.  The lead component is very traditional, but it also adds layers of cost to the product. Generally speaking, crystal that contains lead can be very fragile, and the lead adds weight to the glass.

What is lead-free crystal?

“Lead-free crystal” replaces lead with other components such as barium oxide, zinc oxide, and magnesium oxide. These alternatives to lead weigh far less and provide greater strength and flexibility.  At Gabriel-Glas we make only lead-free crystal stemware, beverage glasses, carafes, and decanters.


Why should I buy lead-free crystal wine glasses?

In recent years, public health officials have made clear that items containing lead may be hazardous to health. You’ll note that every leaded crystal glass sold in the USA comes with a government warning about potential hazards of lead in drinking glasses.   With health concerns in mind, and in an effort to appeal to a wider audience, Gabriel-Glas launched its lead-free crystal “universal” stemware into Europe in 2010 and into the USA in 2013.

The Benefits of Lead-Free Crystal

  • More durable: Lead-free crystal outperforms leaded crystal.  Another reason Gabriel-Glas decided to produce lead-free glasses rather than leaded is that leaded is significantly heavier and less durable than lead-free crystal. Gabriel-Glas is able to produce a lightweight universal wine glass that is very thin at the lip and has great finesse in its structure, yet it is durable enough to stand up to heavy use and most dishwashers.
  • Lighter weight: Most leaded crystal stems and inexpensive wine glasses are much heavier than Gabriel-Glas. The thin lip of Gabriel-Glas allows the consumer to taste and focus on the wine, not the glass! Our lightweight StandArt glass is a great everyday glass, and the Gold Edition is feather-light, almost like drinking out of air!
  • Dishwasher safe: While leaded crystal has a tendency to dull after dishwashing, both the Gold and StandArt Gabriel glasses are dishwasher safe. The lead-free crystal Gabriel-Glas will emerge sparkling clean when washed in most dishwashers.


So why buy Gabriel-Glas lead-free glasses over other glasses?

While we certainly love and admire many other wine glasses on the market, Gabriel-Glas has the benefit of being crystal—but lead-free crystal! Our universal wine glasses are dishwasher safe, elegant, and durable.

Other brands of wine glasses may look impressive, touted as varietal specific, and may (or may not) have lower price points. Gabriel-Glas can check all those boxes and more—it’s durable, elegant, and is designed to fully express the wine it delivers.  Gabriel-Glas is “One for All.”

Shop the one wine glass you'll ever need, our StandArt or Gold Edition wine glasses.

Featured Product

Gabriel-Glas Gold Edition - Gabriel-Glas North America
Gold Edition | Hand-Blown Wine Glasses
Regular price From $99