So, where were we? You’ve bought your rare old vintage bottle, you’ve opened your rare old vintage bottle, and you’ve chosen your collectable branded glassware. Now you’re almost ready to taste what’s in the bottle, but first let’s talk about how to wash a glass. We can all agree that if you are tasting whisky, the glass you taste from needs to be clean and free of odour.
This is clearly not a hygiene lesson but it’s not just the visible dirt that needs to be be removed when you wash a glass. Of course glasses can take on a multitude of tastes and odours when they get used, but there’s more, once you wash a glass, it can get smelly just by being stored for any length of time in its cardboard box. There are all sorts of other hazards too, such as strongly scented detergents and chlorinated water, not to mention the risk of laceration while polishing a glass, so here is our step by step guide to avoid destroying your lead crystal, drinking from stinky glasses and hand injuries.
How To Dish Wash A Glass
If you are fortunate and have a dishwasher then use it. You can use the dishwasher to clean glasses, even if they are made of lead glass. Glass is basically fine in the dishwasher as long as you take care and use the right settings.
Some dishwashers have a glass setting so use that if you can. Alternatively just use a cool wash, particularly for lead glassware which is easily damaged by heat.
Try to only wash glass with glass. This is mainly to avoid the food scraps on plates and cutlery ending up staining in the glasses but it’s the hot water and food that can make glasses go cloudy over time.
Modern dishwasher detergents are available that are designed specifically to protect glasses so keep some in reserve for when you’re washing your fancy Zaltos or Riedels.
How To Hand Wash A Glass
If you don’t have a dishwasher then start by washing each glass with just clean warm water and very diluted washing up liquid.
Never soak lead crystal glasses as they can begin to go cloudy but in any case there is normally no need to soak glasses.
Now this is where things begin to get controversial: you need to rinse each glass thoroughly to remove all the washing up liquid. International readers may be confused as they will assume this goes without saying but there is a peculiar practice in some British homes of drying dishes without rinsing off the soap suds.
How To Dry A Clean Glass
The good news is that there’s no need to dry your glass by hand. You can allow glasses to dry naturally by hanging them on a glass rack but an even better way to dry glasses is to place washed glasses upside down on a clean dish cloth to dry. This prevents most of the water marks by absorbing water that pools at the edge.
How To Get Extra Shine On A Glass
If you have followed these steps then your glass should already be super shiny but you can get them even shinier by steaming your glass very briefly over boiling water. Or, in my opinion, a safer option is to use the steam setting on your dishwasher to do this for you.
How To Polish A Glass
While it’s best not to dry glasses with a dishcloth. We do recommend polishing each glass once they are dry.
It’s worth keeping a stash of clean, soft, dry lint-free cloths for this. Failing that, you can use a clean old tea towel to polish your glass.
First, hold the glass by its base with one end of the cloth and use the other end of the cloth to polish the base.
Next use one hand to cradle the bowl of the glass and polish bowl with your other hand. Again, use the cloth to avoid creating new finger marks.
This part of the process is particularly important if you don’t want to spend the next few hours waiting in accident and emergency waiting for you gaping wound to be stitched up.
Don’t hold the glass by the stem when polishing. Never twist the base and the bowl of the glass.
How To Fill Your Shiny Clean Glass
First check that the glass looks clean. If it has any dirt or cigarette butts in it go back to the beginning and start again.
If all is well, then give the empty glass a good sniff to confirm there are no peculiar aromas. The most common and invasive smells found in otherwise clean glasses are wet cardboard box, musty tea towel, lemony-fresh washing-up liquid or circa-1980s swimming pool. However the glass should smell of nothing at all, so if you note it gives off even the slightest aroma, give the glass a few wafts of air by waving it back and forth vigorously a couple of times.
Nose the glass again and repeat until the glass smells of, well, nothing.
If you find there is a persistent odour in the glass you should go back a few steps, rinse the glass with water, then a splash of the whisky, empty the glass, then shake it out again until the alien smell has left completely.
NOW at last you can poor yourself a special something to taste.