Glassware buying guide

Whether practical and sturdy, or pretty and delicate, glassware is a necessity in every home. Starting a basic glassware collection begins with tumblers or high ball glasses for every day, extending through wine glasses and on to jugs and carafes. But there are plenty more shapes and sizes in between - for cocktails, for champagne, and even for coffee.

With this Habitat Glassware Buying Guide, we help you cut through our range of drinking glasses to see clearly what you need for your table or drinks cabinet. And as usual, everything we do has a great capacity for style.

What are the different kinds of glassware?

For every type of drink there exists the perfect glass. The range at Habitat is designed around the most popular shapes.

These include:

  • High ball glasses
  • Low ball tumblers
  • Wine glasses
  • Champagne flutes
  • Martini glasses

Decanters, jugs and pitchers are all also considered glassware. They hold wine, water, and mixes such as punches and cocktails respectively.

What are the different materials that glassware is made of?

Glassware can be made from several different materials, using several different processes.

Habitat uses soda-lime, crystalline, borosilicate, recycled, SON.hyx® and SPARKX® in the creation of its glassware.

Soda-Lime Glass

This is the most common type of glass and is usually used for everyday glassware. Its name comes from the inclusion of soda ash and lime (CaO) in its list of ingredients.

Soda-lime is a relatively inexpensive raw material that can be decorated with decals or screen-printed. It can also have patterns cut into it, can come coloured, or can be etched or sprayed. It is usually dishwashersafe.

This type of glass is either hand-blown or machine-made.

Crystalline Glass

The clarity and strength of crystalline makes it comparable to crystal, but without the inclusion of lead.

Borosilicate Glass

In addition to the standard ingredients used in glassmaking, boron is used in the manufacture of borosilicate glass.

This tends to come in tubes and is hand-blown, so glasses formed of it don't have a thick base and are the same thickness across the whole shape.

Also known as laboratory glass, borosilicate is highly resistant to heat and can be used for teapots and mugs.

Recycled Glass

Habitat works with recycled glass from Spain, which saves on both raw materials and energy.

SON.HYX® High-Tech Crystal Glass

A relatively new innovation, SON.hy® is a high-tech crystal glass that's sparklingly transparent and ultra clear.

This material is also highly resistant to breakage and is created using eco-friendly melting processes. Over 4,000 industrial washing cycles, it has shown no alteration in transparency or brilliance.

SPARKX® Ultra-Clear Glass

Another new generation of glass, this totally transparent material is also exceptionally durable, resistant to over 2,000 industrial washing cycles, and eco-friendly in its creation.

Which drinking glasses suit which purpose?

We often field queries from our customers about specific drinks. Based on the questions we're most frequently asked, we're including some answers here.

What is a low ball glass tumbler used for?

Low tumblers are smaller in capacity and are perfect for water, squashes and juice. Traditionally used as whisky glasses, they're also well suited to short cocktails such as caipirinhas and negronis.

What is a high ball glass used for?

Longer drinks such as gin and tonics, mojitos and wine spritzers are made for a highball. Like low ball tumblers, a high ball is also ideal for water and other soft drinks.

What is a double wall glass tumbler used for?

Their double-walled design and lightweight, heat resistant, borosilicate material make these glasses as suited to holding hot drinks as to carrying cold, with no risk of either burnt fingers or of table-staining condensation. Mugs and teapots can also be found in single wall borosilicate glass.

What different types of wine glasses are there?

Wine glasses can come with or without stems - which you go for depends on your individual style and how formal or casual you want to take things. In stemware they generally come in different shapes and volumes, characterised as white wine, red wine, burgundy, water, and champagne glasses.

What are the sizes of wine glasses?

Stemware capacities range from approximately 19 to 20cl for a champagne flute, to as much as 58cl for a burgundy glass.

What is an 'everyday glassware set?

Everyday glassware is something you use every day! It's the antithesis of formal pieces that only come out on special occasions.

Habitat always carries several ranges of everyday glassware. Some will cover every glass-related base, from water to wine to champagne to tumbler. Others simply comprise high and low ball tumblers, from the very plain to the classic, durable shapes associated with American diners.

How should I lay my glasses on the table?

How you lay your table depends on the style of party you're throwing. Relaxed and casual has a very different look to fine and formal. See below for more.

Which glasses should be used for a formal table setting?

Traditionally a water glass, a white wine glass, a red wine glass and a champagne flute. Some also factor in coffee cups and dessert wine glasses.

How should glasses be laid out in a formal table setting?

You want to make life as easy as possible for your guests. So just as with crockery and cutlery, lay out your glassware according to the order it's used. Glasses are placed from left to right, beginning above the tip of the meat knife as follows:

  • Water glass/goblet
  • White wine glass
  • Red wine glass
  • Champagne flute

They can be angled so that the water glass is furthest away from the diner and the champagne flute is the closest.

If you're not serving champagne or a certain colour of wine, just remove the glass from the table.

Which glasses should be laid out in a casual table setting?

This is completely up to the host - and the guest.

There should be a water glass and a wine/beer/ champagne/cocktail glass, depending on what each person is drinking - or what the host is serving.

In very relaxed gatherings, people often ask their guests what they'd like to drink on arrival, and then suggest they take their drink/glass to the table with them, providing alternative glasses for different drinks if and when they're requested.

How should glasses be laid out in a casual table setting?

Casual dining arrangements can be configured according to the whim of the host. Water glasses can be any shape - they don't need to be stemmed and can be more everyday, whether tumbler or high ball in style.

If there are any 'rules' to follow here, it's that the water glass should go to the left of whatever glass each person's main drink is being held in. But even this isn't set in stone!

How do you care for glassware?


To keep drinking glasses chip-free for longer, avoid stacking them inside each other. Storing them upside down is another no-no.


Hand washing them is the safest way to clean drinking glasses. Wash them in warm soapy water before rinsing, and then either leave to air dry or wipe with a lint-free cloth.

If they're not regularly used, rinse glasses before drinking from them as they can gather dirt and dust even when stored within cupboards.


Generally speaking, clear glasses - and certainly all tumblers - are dishwasher-safe, but always check the Habitat website or the individual packaging of your glassware to double check.

Washing at low temperatures and stacking them neatly so they don't fall over during the cycle will keep your glasses from breaking.

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