Here's one of the passages he sent me from Anne Tyler's Back when we were grownups:
Alice Farmer washed stemware so silently and morosely that she might have been hung over, except that she didn't drink.Max correctly surmised that AmE stemware means 'glasses with stems', and avers that BrE has no term for this collection of things. One would probably say wine glasses in most cases, but, of course, not all wine glasses have stems and not every stemmed glass is a wine glass--some are champagne flutes or brandy (AmE) snifters/(BrE) balloons. (You can debate whether these are 'wine glasses', but in my world, they don't count.)
This word had fallen onto my own 'to be blogged about' list back in July 2007, when Better Half and I did the legal deed and got an embarrassment of stemware. We'd actually asked for gifts to charity, but plenty of folks felt they couldn't not give us stuff, so we received five sets of wine and/or champagne glasses. We'd just got two boxes of champagne flutes for Christmas and a set of stemless red wine glasses as an engagement present. If only there were enough room in our (BrE) flat/(AmE) apartment to have a large enough party to use them all. Or, if only we had a working fireplace, so that we could make dramatic toasts and throw our glasses at the fire. But I'm getting away from my point, which was this: a friend was taking down the gifts and givers for our thank-you note list, and I'd call out "stemware from [insert your name here, if you gave it to us]" and half the room said "Whaaa?" (Incidentally, one set had no card with it. So, if you gave us wine glasses and never got a thank you, then I thank you now! We will use them all eventually, I'm sure, as we do tend to break them even without dramatic toasts.)
Stemware is but one of many -ware terms that Americans are fond of using. Another is silverware, which in AmE can apply to any of what BrE would call cutlery. In my AmE experience, the more common use of cutlery (not that it's a common word) is to refer to cutting instruments--e.g. knives and scissors (what was traditionally made by a cutler). (Both the 'cutting instruments' and 'knives, forks and spoons' meanings are included in American Heritage; strangely, the latter sense has not yet made it into the OED.) The bleaching of the meaning of silverware is evident from the fact that the phrase "plastic silverware" gets more than 39,000 Google hits. If one wants to talk about the silver silverware, you can leave off the -ware. Or, do as my mother does and say "(AmE) set the table with the real silver". Of course, the people selling you the stainless steel stuff would get into trouble if they called it silverware, so another term for this stuff in AmE is flatware.
Hardware, the pre-computer meaning (i.e. metal things), is a useful word in both BrE and AmE, but hardware store is originally AmE. The traditional BrE equivalent would be ironmonger('s shop), though these days one might also hear hardware shop. (Google tells me that hardwareshop is "Australia's premier online hardware and home improvement store".)
Some other -ware words that I thought might be AmE are not AmE according to the OED. But then the OED doesn't mark stemware as AmE, and I've yet to meet a BrE speaker who uses the term. So, whether or not words like tableware and stoneware and so forth are AmE, I get the feeling that AmE speakers are a bit happier using the -ware suffix than BrE speakers are. In fact, when I asked BH which -ware words he thought were particularly American, he said, "All of them." The one other 'originally AmE' one that I've found in the OED is barware. Are there more?