Product Knowledge Guide: Glassware

As with plates and bowls, durability is a main concern when it comes to glassware. Yet, style is not sacrificed, especially with today's stemware.


Types of glassware include tumblers; stemware, such as goblets, martini glasses, coupes and flutes; coffee mugs; beer mugs; plates and bowls; carafes; decanters; pitchers; and votives.

Restaurant glassware is divided into different categories. For example, beer glassware is available in pint, pilsner, yard and beer stein varieties. Also, general stemware includes a variety of wine glassware, such as champagne flutes, champagne coupes and brandy snifters.

Most glassware is constructed using one of two processes. The first is pressed. One feature of pressed ware is an overall heavier weight. In addition, thicker side walls enhance durability. Wall treatments, such as panels or facets, are more distinct using the pressed process. An assortment of glassware, including tumblers, stemware, mugs, plates, bowls and accessories, are manufactured using this process.

The second process, blown, is the oldest way to manufacture glassware. Once created by hand, this is now an automated process. Blown glassware is lighter weight and features thinner side walls for a more upscale appearance. Without seams, blown glassware has a more elegant look for a higher perceived value. A wide range of tumblers, stemware and accessories are manufactured using this process.

Stemware is manufactured using either a one-piece or a two-piece construction process. With one-piece construction, the stem and foot flow continually from the bowl without welds. One-piece construction offers improved durability.

Through the two-piece process, the stem and bowl are fused together while still molten hot. The
benefits of two-piece construction include a lighter weight, more upscale appearance and greater variety of stem types and looks.

With more consumers becoming wine aficionados, operators are seeking high-end stemware to accommodate their growing list of varietals.

Textured glass continues to be popular, and there also has been an increase in uniquely shaped bowls with stemware.

Like wine, high-end and premium tequilas have also increased in popularity, and with it so has smaller, upscale glassware to showcase it.

Options for glassware include heat treating for increased resistance to thermal and mechanical shock and decorating with the logo or name of a bar or restaurant to customize the product. A thermal after-process for pressed ware produces durable glassware with a prolonged service life.

Common Applications

There are a variety of glassware applications for any type of operation. These include: bar service, casual and premium wine service and food presentations, to name a few.

Here is some additional information about the way foodservice operators use individual pieces of glassware.

  • Tumblers with straight or slightly angled sides that hold 8 to 10 ounces of liquid are typically used as water glasses.
  • Glassware for serving other cold beverages, such as soda, lemonade and iced tea, have the same appearance as water tumblers with a larger capacity of 12 ounces.
  • The exception to cold drinks is juices, which are served in smaller, 5-ounce glasses. This is because customers typically drink less juice than water, soda and iced tea.
  • Coffee glasses commonly substitute for traditional mugs for specialty drinks, such as lattes, cappuccinos and espresso.
  • Glassware also can be utilized for dessert items, such as mousse and hot fudge sundaes. Depending on the application, shallow dishes with stems that offer 4 to 6 ounces or taller 14- to 16-ounce cone-shaped glassware may be warranted.
  • There are stemmed wine glasses that accommodate between 6 and 8 ounces. While white wine glass bowls are narrow, red wine stemware has wider bowls, which boosts oxidation for this beverage.
  • Full bars will require glasses for mixed drinks. Taller with straight sides, highball glasses hold between 12 and 14 ounces. Lowball or rocks glasses are short and have capacities between 8 and 10 ounces. Martini or cocktail glass stems are attached to wide, shallow, cone-shaped bowls and hold between 6 and 10 ounces.

Specifying Considerations

  • When ordering glassware, the design and the quality of a line should be considered.
  • When specifying glassware, operators should consider the beverage sales mix. It should be determined if beer, wine and/or cocktails will be served prior to deciding on glassware types needed.
  • Restaurants work through many glasses during the various day parts, so having the correct number available is extremely important. It's also preferable to have extras on hand in case of breakage. When the operation includes a warewasher or staff designated as dishwashers, most consultants recommend stocking at least 12 dozen of each type of glassware to meet the daily table turnover.
  • Prior to purchasing glassware, operators should figure out the biggest problem that needs to be solved or the greatest opportunity that should be seized regarding the beverage presentation. This will ensure that the type and amount of glassware is appropriate for the application.
  • Define what is the most important aspect in glassware for the application because it varies by operation. For some, it is design, while others will emphasize durability, price, form or function.
  • Determine how staff will control pouring liquor and other beverages to maximize profit per serving.
  • When specifying glassware, operators should consider the steps they are taking to differentiate their businesses from the competition and how glassware can play a part in this.

Specifying Mistakes to Avoid

A number of common mistakes can occur when specifying glassware.

  • One of the most common mistakes operators make is setting the par level too low, resulting in a low inventory of glassware. It's critical to purchase enough glassware to account for busy times and breakage.
  • Operators should not look at price without considering all of the features and benefits of the glassware products.
  • Not providing the proper training necessary for care and handling can result in shorter service life for these items.

New & Notable Features

  • Manufacturers continue to introduce unique shapes designed to enhance the presentation of beverages.

When to Replace

Glassware should be replaced if exhibiting the following signs.

  • Scratches on the glassware: When glassware has prominent scratches that impact the aesthetics of the tabletop or operation it is time to replace that item.
  • Hazy or milky appearance: Occasionally, older glassware can take on a hazy or milky appearance, which can impact customers' view of the operation's cleanliness. This glassware should be retired.
  • Chips: Glassware with chips, especially around the rim, can compromise customer safety and should be replaced.
  • Abraded surface: Worn surfaces on glassware are a sign that the service life is ending.

Maintenance Musts

  • To improve the service life of glassware, it's important to adhere to strict cleaning and maintenance practices.
  • Do not stack glassware. Doing so greatly reduces the life of glassware.
  • Remove abraded, cracked or chipped glassware from service daily.
  • Never place flatware in glassware.
  • Allow glassware to reach room temperature before washing.
  • After washing, allow glassware to reach room temperature before putting back into service.
  • The average service life of glassware varies by the type of operation and regular care and handling practices. If cared for properly, glassware can last for one or more years.

Environmental Advancements

  • The latest green developments primarily involve reducing waste in the production process.
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