The sorry state of the "glass culture" surrounding bottled water is a sure sign that the best of the bottled water trend is yet to come. Many fine restaurants overlook the emerging trend and fail to provide proper mineral water glasses , it quickly becomes clear, is usually an afterthought.
I don''t mind paying eight dollars for a bottle of water, but I want it served in an appropriate glass. Instead, I've been served water in all possible vessels, from a heavy whiskey tumbler to a long highball glass and the dreaded lemonade glass.
A wide variety of wineglasses are also often used as water glasses. This is unfortunate, as it confuses the waiters and you have to constantly remind them not to pour wine into your water glass. I usually consider myself lucky if I get a water goblet (a glass with a base and stem), but unfortunately these are usually heavy glass and look like second-class citizens of the table setting.
There are some nice water goblets (also sometimes called mineral water glasses) available from manufacturers like Riedel, Spiegelau, and others. These are usually shorter than the wineglasses they are-designed to be set with - they are cast in a supporting role and draw no attention. Usually made of lead crystal by machine, the glasses are reasonably priced and dishwasher safe. If you drink wine with the meal, these glasses are perfect for the accompanying water. But if water is your main drink with a meal, you also need appropriate glassware and it isn't a water goblet. Toasting with a water goblet just looks silly. Luckily, leading manufacturers produce other special glasses for water. Unfortunately, these glasses seldom make it into restaurants and are rarely seen in private dining settings. Nevertheless, this is the way to go if you like to experience fine bottled water.
The companies that design these water glasses take different approaches. Most of the glasses in this category are expensive, hand-blown lead crystal, and you would probably not trust your dish washer to clean them. They are meant to blend into the overall design and shape of the wineglass series they are part of the tall glasses are similar in shape to white-wine glasses.
Sometimes the design is identical to the wineglass but made out of cobalt blue glass. A cobalt glass is good if you are drinking both water and wine (and a water goblet doesn't do it for you), but if you drink only water or are switching water between courses, colored glass is not necessary. Riedel took a slightly different approach with its renowned Sommeliers series. These glasses have for years tried to establish themselves not as variations on wineglasses but as true water glasses, with a unique, straight shape.
In the case of both the Riedel glasses and more wine-glass-inspired glassware, your first impression will be the tactile sensation of a fine, hand-blown glass. It is tall and thin, and you can feel the weight of the water. The visual impact is commanding: These are usually the tallest glasses on the table. There are, of course, many casual dining situations in which a water glass as described above would be out of place, and even a water goblet might be a little bit too formal. Such occasions require a water tumbler a simple, flat-bottomed glass with no foot or stem. These tumblers come in different shapes, colors, and patterns and are usually machine made out of sturdy glass. They have a solid feeling and are perfect for barbecues or casual picnics.