In this guide, we’re going to give you everything you need to choose the perfect Wusthof knife for your home/kitchen. Our goal is to get you informed and confident enough to choose a knife that you know will deliver as expected. Wusthof knives are widely regarded as some of the best kitchen knives on the market, but not all their product lines are equal.
There are many important differences you need to pay attention to if you want to get the best value for your money and a knife that suits your style and requirements. We’re going to note some of the main differences and show you how they affect the real-world performance of the knives. We’re going to go a little deeper into each of the differences to help you figure out how important the subtleties are for your kitchen. Let’s dive in!
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Wusthof Classic vs Gourmet: The Differences
The Wusthof Classic vs Gourmet argument is by no means a new one. It wouldn’t be fair to call one product line inferior as they serve different purposes and markets. Let’s take a look at how this behemoth of a brand has made changes to cater to different needs and users – without losing the iconic Wusthof quality and identity.
Forged vs Stamped
You’ve most likely heard of forging when it comes to knives and steel. This age-old process has been refined over thousands of years and perfected through the latest technology and innovation. Stamping (in terms of knives), on the other hand, might be a new term for you. It’s a cheaper and quicker method of crafting knives.
Forging and stamping are the two methods used by Wusthof for their kitchen knives. Wusthof’s Classic series knives are forged, and the Gourmet series knives are stamped. Let’s take a quick look at what’s involved in each of these processes.
Forged knives (Wusthof Classic) use a single piece of high-carbon steel. This piece is put through a comprehensive 40-step process where it’s folded, molded, and hardened – producing a tough, hard, and capable knife. The forging process is significantly more expensive than the stamping process and far more time-intensive. Their benefits are:
- Harder blade using the same steel
- Excellent edge retention
- The cutting edge can handle a higher degree of sharpness (narrower grind angle)
- Denser steel with better overall durability
Stamped knives are cut out of a single piece of steel. Remember baking cookies and cutting the dough cutouts from a single piece of dough? This process is very similar and is done with lasers and other relatively advanced steel-cutting technologies.
There is no time-intensive folding and molding process – which is why this process is significantly cheaper than forging. The result is lightweight steel that can be created quicker and more frequently. Stamped knives’ benefits include:
- Lightweight steel that can be produced quickly
- 30-150% cheaper than the forging process
- Softer steel that isn’t prone to chipping
Forging vs stamping is the single most important and influential difference between the Wusthof Classic vs Gourmet series. You’ll need to decide how you’re going to be using the knife before choosing which series to use. Forged knives are better for heavier duty work and in busy kitchens.
If you’re just using the knife at home and don’t mind sacrificing some durability and performance for a big decrease in price, a Gourmet knife might be the better choice for you. All the differences we’re going to talk about below are a result of this forging or stamping process. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Weight and Balance
Wusthof’s Classic (forged) knives are about 1.1 ounces heavier than the Gourmet series (stamped). This difference might not seem like much, but on something as small as a kitchen knife, it’s noticeable – especially if you use chef knives often. At 9.1 ounces, Classic series knives have a fantastic balance between heft and mobility.
This extra weight makes them great at carving, rocking-motion chopping, dicing, and heavier cutting tasks. You’ll find that 9.1 ounces are the sweet spot that gives you great cutting power without sacrificing accuracy or being difficult to use. At 8 ounces, the Gourmet series is super-easy to use and is great for lighter kitchen utility.
Gourmet knives are excellent for light slicing, dicing, and some easier carving tasks. In terms of balance, Classic knives are often the clear winner. This is partly due to the heavier tang (we’ll talk about that in a little bit). This gives the knife an overall more professional feel and helps you get accurate results without having to strain your hands and wrists.
The Gourmet series knives aren’t as well balanced, but their lighter weight and slimmer tang help to offset this imbalance. In the end, if you’re going to be using the knife for heavier duty and higher intensity work then you should go for the classic knife – if you can afford it.
Cutting Edge and Hardness
This is another important aspect of the knife. The cutting edge will determine how easily you can make your cuts, the edge retention, and how prone it is to chipping. Classic series knives have an HRC rating of about 58 and the Gourmet knives have a slightly softer rating of HRC 56.
Most quality kitchen knives (Japanese knives are an exception) sit between HRC 55 – 60. Harder steel gets more brittle and less durable. Any softer and edge retention and sharpness aren’t that great. Classic series knives use the harder steel and can handle a sharper edge than the HRC 56 Gourmet knives. In addition to this, edge retention is better and the knives will cut more easily for longer than Gourmet knives.
On the other hand, Gourmet knives use softer steel and as a result, are less likely to chip. That being said though, both of the knives are very chip resistant and great for general utility tasks. Edge retention is still good at HRC56. You won’t notice too much of a difference if you’re using quality cutting boards and good knife care.
Tang and Bolster
The bolster is probably the most noticeable visual difference between the Wusthof Classic vs Gourmet knives. Gourmet knives have no bolster, whereas Classic knives have a full bolster.
Bolsters are the result of the forging process and are seldom found in stamped knives. If you’ve ever used a premium kitchen knife, or have any experience in a professional kitchen, you’ll know how important a full bolster can be for productivity. They protect your hand from slipping onto the blade during heavier and more intense cutting.
Bolsters are also excellent for promoting a better pinch grip and offer you more grip space. This improves accuracy and safety while working. This all comes at the cost of extra weight and a bulkier feel. If you’re a fan of slim knives and don’t want to pay the premium price, the Gourmet series is a great choice for the average home kitchen.
Both series of knives have a full tang design. This means the knife is made with an extended piece of steel that the handle is then triple riveted to (as with most chef knives). With the Classic series knives, the tang is exposed. This means that the handle is connected in two separate pieces and riveted on both sides. You can see the tang when you view the handle from the top or bottom.
These Classic series knives benefit from the wider and larger tang, as well as the improved balance and cutting power due to the added weight. Gourmet series knives also have a durable full-tang, but the only difference is that it isn’t exposed. The handle slides over the slimmer tang like a sort of “sleeve” that’s riveted in place.
The thinner and lighter tang means you’re sacrificing a little heft, balance, and durability – but this doesn’t mean the knife can’t handle some heavier cutting. You’ll just need to be a little wearier of twisting or cutting with a lot of power.
So Which Series Is Right for You?
We’ve covered quite a bit of information here in this guide. Hopefully, you’ve got a much clearer picture of which series suits your needs and your budget better. On that note, the main difference, and probably the most important deciding factor here is the price. Classic knives can cost you anywhere from 30-150% more than what you’d pay for a Gourmet knife.
This means that you need to know exactly what you want in a kitchen knife if you’re going to go for the Classic series knife. If you choose one of them, you can be confident that you have one of the most durable and capable knives on the market. If you’re not sure what you’re after or have a limited budget, the Gourmet series of stamped knives offer you great value for money.
Performance is still excellent thanks to Wusthof’s high standard. All-in-all, regardless of which series you go with, you’re getting a handy and versatile kitchen knife you can be proud to own. They both serve their purposes excellently and will help you get one step closer to your culinary goals!