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If you’re in the market for new kitchen knives and are planning to go with Wusthof, you’ve already made a great choice. Now the question is, which Wusthof kitchen knives should you buy, the Classic or Gourmet?
In this article, I break down all the similarities and differences between the Wusthof Classic and Gourmet knife collections including their material, performance, durability, design, and much more.
Let’s dive right in!
- Wusthof Classic vs. Gourmet: 1 Minute Summary
- Side-By-Side Comparison Chart
- Classic vs. Gourmet: What are the Differences?
- Classic vs. Gourmet: What are the Similarities?
- Bottom Line: Which Should You Choose?
As I outlined in a recent article comparing Wusthof vs. Zwilling kitchen knives, Wusthof makes incredibly high-quality kitchen knives.
You can’t go wrong with any Wusthof knives, however, that does not mean that all product lines are created equal.
If you’re deciding between the Classic line and the Gourmet line, there are several significant differences that you should know about before making your final decision.
The most significant difference between Wusthof Classic and Gourmet is that the Classic knives are forged and the Gourmet knives are stamped.
Wusthof’s forged knives are made from a single piece of premium high-carbon steel that is heated and formed with machines into a durable blade. Wusthof’s stamped knives are laser-cut (or stamped) from a sheet of high-carbon steel, similar to how cookies are cut out of rolled-out dough.
The Classic line is Wusthof’s high-end knife collection. The process of precision forging produces blades that are heavier, thicker, and more durable than the Gourmet line which is made through the laser-stamping process.
The Classic line also features a bolster to protect your hand from slipping onto the blade and a full tang which means that the steel runs all the way from the tip of the blade through the bottom of the handle. Knives with full tangs, like the Wusthof Classic, have superior balance and durability.
The Gourmet line is much more affordable than the Classic line and ideal for the average home cook that is just starting out.
The Gourmet line offers the same high-carbon stainless steel blade material and a similarly designed ergonomic handle, but for a significantly lower price.
Although the Gourmet line features laser-sharp blades that are built to last, because their blades are stamped, they are not as sharp, thick, heavy, or durable as the Classic line.
|Wusthof Classic||Wusthof Gourmet|
|How They Are Made||Precision forged||Laser-cut (stamped)|
|Blade Material||High carbon, rust-resistant steel||High carbon, rust-resistant steel|
|Edge Angle||14-Degree angle per side||18-Degree angle per side|
|Handle Design||Triple-riveted, traditional||Triple-riveted, traditional|
|Full Tang||Yes, exposed||Yes, non-exposed|
|Weight||9.1 ounces||8 ounces|
|Cleaning||Hand wash||Hand wash|
|Warranty||Lifetime Limited Warranty||Lifetime Limited Warranty|
|Price||More Expensive (check Amazon)||Less Expensive (check Amazon)|
There are several differences between Wusthof Classic and Gourmet kitchen knives including how they are made, their design, features, blade, sharpness, weight, and price. In the following sections, I dive deep into these differences so you know exactly what sets these popular product lines apart.
Wusthof Classic Knives are Forged, Gourmet Knives are Stamped
The biggest difference between the Wusthof Classic and Gourmet lines is in the way they are manufactured. The Classic line is forged and the Gourmet line is stamped. What is the difference and why does it matter?
When it comes to kitchen knives, the process in which they are made has a significant impact on the quality, performance, and price.
Wusthof’s forged knives, including the Classic line, are created through a 40-step process in which they are heat-molded from a single piece of high-carbon stainless steel. This process results in a blade that is hard, thick, and durable. The forging process allows Wusthof to create a steel bolster which is a thick lip where the blade and handle connect. The bolster prevents your hand from slipping during intense chopping. More on this in the next section.
Wusthof’s stamped knives, including the Gourmet line, are created through a 14-step process in which they are stamped out of a large sheet of steel, similar to how you would stamp cookies from a large piece of rolled dough.
Stamped knives are lighter in weight and considered lower quality, however, because the manufacturing process takes fewer steps, they are significantly less expensive.
If you’re interested in learning more about Wusthof’s manufacturing process, this video gives you a behind the scenes look at their factory in Solingen Germany.
Wusthof Classic Knives Have a Bolster, Gourmet Knives Do Not
Another key difference between the Classic and Gourmet lines is that the Classic line features a bolster and the Gourmet line does not.
A bolster is the thick part of the knife located between the handle and the blade.
The bolster adds weight and balance to the knife, but most importantly, it prevents your hand from slipping onto the blade. With the Gourmet line, you have to be extremely careful that your hand doesn’t slip while chopping.
Here’s a look at a Wusthof Classic chef’s knife with a bolster (top) and a Wusthof Gourmet knife without a bolster (bottom):
Wusthof Classic Knives Feature a Full Exposed Tang
Most high-quality kitchen knives feature a tang which is the part of the steel blade that runs through the handle of the knife. Similar to the bolster, the tang adds weight, balance, and durability to the knife. The tang also prevents the blade from detaching from the handle since the blade and handle are essentially one piece.
There are two types of tangs, full and half. A full tang runs all the way to the bottom of the handle and a half tang runs halfway down the handle.
All knives within the Classic line feature a full tang. The tang within the Classic line is exposed and held in place with 3 rivets adding elegance to the handle design. The tang runs the complete width of the handle providing the maximum amount of durability and balance.
Most of the knives within the Gourmet line feature a full tang, however, they do not run the full width of the handle, and therefore are not exposed like the Classic line. Below is a look at the full exposed tang on a Classic knife (bottom) next to the covered tang on the Gourmet knife (top).
Here’s another side-by-side angle of the Classic full exposed tang (bottom) compared to the Gourmet covered tang (top):
Gourmet knives with blades shorter than 4.5 inches, like the 3-inch paring knife (link to Amazon), are downgraded to a tang that runs only halfway through the handle and is held in place with two rivets. Ideally, you’d want a full tang on all knives, however, since the most frequently used knives (6 or 8-inch cook’s knife) feature a full tang, this isn’t a huge disadvantage for the Gourmet line.
Wusthof Classic Blades are Harder Than Gourmet Blades
Since the purpose of a kitchen knife is to cut, slice and chop food, the durability/hardness of the blade and its ability to sustain a sharp edge are two of the most important performance factors.
The hardness of kitchen knife blades is measured on what is called the Rockwell scale. Hardness typically ranges from low 50’s to high 60’s on the Rockwell scale but varies by brand and product line. The higher on the Rockwell Scale, the harder the steel. The important thing to understand is that harder blades can tolerate a sharper edge, however, contrary to most people’s intuition, when blades are too hard, they are actually less durable and more likely to chip.
Most Wusthof knives are made within the ideal range of 55-60 on the Rockwell scale. The Classic line is slightly harder with a score of 58 compared to the Gourmet line at 56.
Although the Classic line has a slightly harder blade than the Gourmet line, all Wusthof knives are made with the optimal blend of stainless steel, carbon (for hardness), chromium (to add resistance to stains), molybdenum (to add hardness and resist corrosion), and vanadium (for hardness and durability). You can learn more about this special formula on Wusthof.com.
Wusthof Classic Edges are Sharper Than Gourmet Edges
Wusthof Classic knives are sharpened at a 14-degree angle per side making them significantly sharper than Gourmet knives’ edges which are sharpened at an 18-degree angle per side.
Since the Classic line has harder blades, they are able to tolerate a sharper blade. In addition to their ability to handle a sharper edge, all of Wusthof’s forged lines, including the Classic, use a technology called PEtec (PrecisionEdge Technology) to create the ideal edge. It’s a complicated process but, in a nutshell, the PETec Technology utilized robots, lasers, whetstone, and a special disk to measure, sharpen, and polish the edges. The end result is a blade that is exceptionally sharp that you won’t need to sharpen as often.
You might be wondering, why doesn’t Wusthof make edges as sharp as possible? The reason they don’t is that, as you sharpen the edge, it gets thinner and more likely to break or dull. An edge angle between 14-20 degrees is the perfect balance between performance and durability and is ideal for kitchen knives.
Although the Classic line has sharper edge angles, at 18 degrees per side, the Gourmet line falls within the ideal angle range making it high performing and durable too.
Wusthof Classic Knives are Heavier Than Gourmet Knives
Wusthof Classic knives feature a bolster, full tang, and slightly thicker blade which add weight and makes them slightly heavier than the Gourmet knives.
To give you an idea, the Classic line’s 8-inch cook’s knife (link to view on Amazon), which is one of the most frequently used knives in the kitchen, weighs 9.1 ounces compared to the Gourmet version which weighs 8 ounces. Although 1.1 ounces may seem like a minimal difference, because knives are such small objects, you can feel the difference when you pick them up.
A heavier knife is not necessarily better. In fact, some people prefer a lighter knife because it takes less effort to use for extended periods. Personally, I prefer a heavier knife because it feels more solid, durable, and higher quality.
Wusthof Classic Knives Are More Expensive Than Gourmet Knives
The Wusthof Classic line is clearly superior to the Gourmet line in many categories, however, the one category that the Gourmet line wins by a significant margin is price.
The Gourmet line, although still very high-quality and high-performing, is designed as the lower-end, more affordable version of the Classic line. As I mentioned previously, Gourmet knives are stamped, do not feature a bolster, some knives in the collection have a half tang, and their blades are not sharpened with PETec. All of these impact the quality and price.
On average, Gourmet knives can run anywhere from 30-150% less expensive than Classic knives, however, prices are always changing. To get an accurate comparison of prices between Wusthof Classic and Gourmet, use the links to Amazon in the chart below to compare the same popular knives across both lines.
|Wusthof Classic||Wusthof Gourmet|
|8-Inch Chef's Knife||Check Price||Check Price|
|6-Inch Chef's Knife||Check Price||Check Price|
|7-Inch Santoku Knife||Check Price||Check Price|
|10 Piece Block Set||Check Price||Check Price|
|36 Piece Set||Check Price||Check Price|
Despite their differences, Wusthof Classic and Gourmet knives have many similarities including the materials used to make them, handle design, recommended cleaning procedures, product options, and warranties. In this section, I cover each of these similarities in more detail.
High quality, long lasting knives start with the materials used to make them and Wusthof Classic and Gourmet knives are made of the exact same materials.
Their handles are made of a synthetic material called Polyoxymethylene, or POM. POM is engineered to be highly durable with excellent dimensional stability. Companies use it to make eyeglass frames, ski bindings, small gear wheels, and, in this case, knife handles. POM has a tight molecular structure which makes it more resistant to discoloration and fading.
Although the process in which Wusthof Classic and Gourmet blades are very different, the materials used to make them are exactly the same.
Their blades are made of a unique blend of alloy, chemical elements, and minerals that result in hard and durable blades that will not stain or corrode over time. Below is a break down of each element and what it adds to the blade.
- Stainless steel – The core material, ideal for kitchen knives.
- Carbon – .5% of the blade is Carbon which adds hardness.
- Chromium – An alloy that enables stain resistance.
- Molybdenum – A chemical element to resist corrosion and add hardness.
- Vanadium – Another chemical element that improves durability.
Blade and Handle Design
At a quick glance, you might not be able to tell the difference between Classic and Gourmet knives.
The design and shape of the blades are exactly the same. Both of their handles are sleek and black in color with almost the exact same shape (Classic Chef’s knife on top, Gourmet carving knife on bottom).
The only difference is that the Classic knives have a bolster and fully exposed tang in the handles and the Gourmet knives do not.
Wusthof recommends the following steps to clean both the Classic and Gourmet lines:
- Wash immediately after use. If you leave food and spices on the knives, they could become damaged and corroded.
- Handwash only. Technically you can throw Wusthof knives in the dishwasher, however, Wusthof advises against it because the blades could rub against other knives and get damaged.
- Use a damp cloth or sponge with warm water and liquid soap.
- Dry completely immediately after washing.
The Wusthof Classic line offers 39 different knife sets ranging from the 2-Piece Mini Asian Set to the 36-Piece Mega Block Set. The Gourmet line offers 37 knife sets that range from the 2-Piece Cook’s Set to the 36-Piece Mega Block Set. Within both lines, you can also buy all the standard knives individually if you’re not ready to invest in a set.
Regardless of which line you choose, there are more options than you will ever need.
All Wusthof knives come with the same limited lifetime warranty. Wusthof guarantees defect-free products, however, their warranty does not cover normal wear or damage resulting from misuse.
Wusthof has been making knives in Solingen Germany (The City of Blades) since 1814. Regardless of which product line you choose, with Wusthof, you get high-quality, high-performing, and elegantly designed knives that will last forever.
Wusthof designed the Classic line for serious home cooks and professional chefs that are willing to pay more for the highest highest-quality, best-performing knives on the market.
Wusthof designed the Gourmet line for home cooks seeking the quality and performance of Wusthof knives without the high price tag of the Classic line.
In my opinion, the Classic line is worth the investment because kitchen knives are products that most people use every day. The Classic line knives are sharper, more durable, safer (due to the bolster), and have the ideal weight and balance.
If a full set of Wusthof Classic knives don’t fit in your budget, I highly recommend going with the Classic line for knives that you’ll use most frequently, like the Chef’s knife and Santoku knife, and buy the Gourmet line for other knives that you won’t use very often like the carving knife and bread knife.
If you’re not going to use certain knives very often, it doesn’t make sense to spend more on the Classic versions. This is exactly what I did and I have no regrets (top two knives are Gourmet bread and carving, bottom two are Classic Chef’s and Santoku).
Regardless of which one you choose, you now have all the important facts about each product line and can feel confident knowing you made a well-informed decision.
If you’re still not sure Wusthof is the brand for you, check out our in-depth comparisons of Wusthof vs. Zwilling, Wusthof vs. Shun, Wusthof vs. Cutco, and Zwilling Pro vs. Pro “S” to learn more about other top knife brands on the market.
- Best Chef’s Knife Under $100: Top 5 Compared
- The Ultimate Review of Wusthof Classic Kitchen Knives
- Wusthof Classic vs. Wusthof Ikon: What Are the Differences?
Thank You for Reading our Comparison of Wusthof Classic vs. Gourmet Kitchen Knives!
Do you agree or disagree with our review? Are there any other kitchen knife brands or product lines that you think are better? Please let me know in the comments section or contact us directly, I’d love to hear your feedback.