Crystal Clear

 When I was 19 or so, a friend's (very sophisticated) uncle was teasing me and my friend about our love of yellow tail chardonnay in our oversized glass wine goblets that we'd purchased from Target.  He poured us some Newton's unfiltered chardonnay (a difficult to find wine she and I both still dream about) in two glasses, one glass and one crystal, and asked if we could taste the difference.  Even the two of us, not yet old enough to legally drink, and favoring $3 vodka tonics at our college bar on the weekends, could tell that there was a huge improvement made by the cyrstal class.  I couldn't afford them until I graduated law school, but as soon as I had a little extra money I bought a set of Reidel glasses.  And when Peter and I got married, I registered for dozens more for parties.  Now, you can buy a set of 2 Reidel stemless glasses for $25.  It's a perfect gift for a friend or for yourself!

Crystal actually does hold up relatively well in the dishwasher, but it's not recommended.  If you do opt for a machine wash, choose the shortest, gentlest cycle with a small amount of detergent at the lowest temperature.  Set the dishwasher at the coolest drying cycle to allow to air dry.

When handwashing, use a very small amount of mild detergent in warm water with a soft cloth or sponge.  In fact, crystal doesn't stain, so you'll be able to remove those red wine marks with water only.  But use a bit of detergent in order to disinfect the glass.  Wipe crystal glasses dry with a lint free cloth (available at Bed, Bath & Beyond or the Container Store, among other places).  

If you pull your crystal out of the cabinet and you notice that the glasses are covered in water marks, put a tea kettle on the stove.  Use the steam escaping from the tea kettle to steam clean your crystal.  Cover the glass in steam and wipe dry with a lint free cloth.  I steam clean my crystal stemware each time I have guests over either to eliminate water marks or to eliminate dust that may have collected on the glasses while in the liquor cabinet.  Make sure to handle crystal glassware very gently.  Never hold the stem and twist the base of the glass in either direction while wiping clean.  You may snap the glass (and hurt yourself!)  Note that you can steam clean any item of crystal - vases, cake stands, candlesticks, anything.

Store crystal standing upright on its base as the rim is the weakest part of the glass.  Never stack crystal tumblers as they are apt to chip.

I hope your next cocktail hour is crystal clear!