Artisan Wine Review
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Is Lead Crystal Safe?

What is Lead Crystal?

It is glass that is made from at least 24 percent lead oxide.   For centuries, lead crystal glassware has been prized for its brilliant reflectivity and clarity.  

Wine with Dinner:

According to a 1991 study at Columbia University there are trace amounts of lead that leach out of lead crystal glasses.   However, the study found that over the course of a normal meal those amounts posed a negligible risk to the average wine drinker.

Canadian government test have also found that the lead that leaches into a glass over the course of a meal is well below their government’s maximum allowable concentration levels of 200 parts per billion.

Wine in a Lead Crystal Decanter:

If liquor, wine, or other acidic beverages such as fruit juices are stored in a lead crystal decanter, the lead that is released will build up over time and can reach over 100 times the allowable levels of lead in a beverage.  In some cases these alarmingly high levels have been reached after just a few weeks.   That is why experts almost universally warn against using lead crystal decanters to store wine, liquor or any acidic beverage.

Health Hazard:

Lead is a heavy metal that in high concentrations can lead to damage of the kidneys, bone marrow and the nervous system.   Concerned people can have their doctor measure the amount of lead in their bodies with a simple blood test.

Bottom Line:

For special occasions serving wine in lead crystal glasses that have been thoroughly hand-washed beforehand is not going to be a cause for concern.   However, for everyday use we recommend drinking from wine glasses that do not contain lead oxide.

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