All seasoned wine collectors have their favorite stemware or wine glass. Is it possible that your personal favorites say something about you as a wine lover, and as some semi cultured, semi sophisticated connoisseur? Wine glasses are something we go through frequently at our house, so I have experienced both good and bad glasses, large and small, all kinds of shapes and sizes, with and without stems, dishwasher safe and delicate requiring hand washing. So here are my thoughts:
- I prefer a small wine glass in a Bordeaux style that narrows at the top to enhance the aromas on the nose for every day purposes (that does not mean that I use the glass every day). When you attend the Montreal Wine Show in November you get with the price of admission a perfect SAQ 6 ounce tasting glass, so we replenish our supply of these tasting glasses every year at the show. They are also inexpensive, light, compact, durable and dishwasher safe, functional and simple.
- You need to have a set of good crystal wine glasses for special occasions. The only problem with that thinking is how many glasses do you need to have – 2, 4, 6, 10 or more? This depends on your family size, but I would suggest at least 8 so you can accommodate guests. Good crystal Riedel glasses will cost between $25 and $50 per glass, but they will come in many different shapes and sizes. There are a few basic types including a champagne flute, white wine, red wine Bordeaux and red wine Burgundy, and a port glass. See the various different types below:
- If money and space are not issues for you, then by all means get a set of white, red, champagne and dessert or port glasses. However, if you have the budget and space for just one set of crystal glasses, get a red wine Bordeaux style as it is usually quite functional with all wine types. Do not get the white wine glasses even if you are a white wine drinker because they just do not do the same job that a red wine glass will do with the narrower rim at the top of the glass. At $50.00 per glass you want the best taste experience possible, so a narrow rim at the top is vital to enhance the aromas on your nose as an important part of the tasting experience. Can you really smell and taste the difference between an open and narrow rim glass? You bet you can!
- Do stay away from overly long stemmed glasses, they break easily and require hand washing, which in itself leads to a higher breakage rate. Also avoid crystal that is too thin, it breaks easily.
- Save the plastic stemware for the cottage down at the dock or around the campfire, it just does not say much about your level of sophistication if you resort to those on a regular basis.
- Stay away from fancy designs or etched glassware and crystal, this makes it very difficult to visually assess the wine in your glass, which is part of the overall tasting experience.
- Do not go crazy by overpaying for wine glasses. Many years ago I bought six of the “Les Impitoyables” crystal wine glasses (made by Peugeot) in three designs: the white, the young red, and the mature red (two of each glass). Today only two remain, and at $100 per glass all I can say is that I am glad I did not buy 12 glasses as I was originally intending to do.
- You always end up with orphans, the lonely survivors of a set of 4, 6, or 8. Often they were gifts and not something that you would buy for yourself because the style is not to your liking. Find a way to get rid of them, ship them off with the kids when they move out, after all they probably broke most of the set anyways.
- Stay away from the latest fads or gimmicks in wine glasses, they are usually not very practical and will not stand the test of time. I came across a good example of that two weeks ago that inspired me to write this blog. The press carried a story about the Wine Glass Mask and how the product designer was conducting a Kickstarter fund raising campaign to raise $76,000 US to commence production of the Wine Glass Mask. So honestly, this has got to be the ugliest wine glass you will ever see, as the following photos will illustrate. There is something not quite right about creating a wine glass that fits not just your entire nose in the glass, but your entire face. The design concept is meant to engulf the entire face. Come on, this looks like you are wearing an oxygen mask. Imagine you are attending an elegant dinner party for 10, and everyone has their face in their wine glass at the same time. It will look like an airline emergency with everyone inhaling oxygen through their oxygen masks, really quite funny, and hopefully an idea that will expire or run out of gas soon.
- There is nothing wrong with finding your own special and unique wine glass that you use frequently whether alone or entertaining. That special wine glass becomes part of your wine personality, it makes a statement about you the wine connoisseur, and becomes identified as “your glass”. This means that it automatically gets special treatment in the glass rack, washed carefully by hand, and otherwise pampered.
I love my glass, pictured below. Engraved with my name, the glass is large enough that it can easily hold a full bottle of wine without looking full (in the photo below the glass is holding a full bottle of wine), in fact it can hold over two full bottles of wine. However, with more than one bottle of wine in my glass at a time, I find I need two hands to hold the glass steady when taking a sip, which looks a little ridiculous. I could raise guppies in the glass if I wanted. Since the glass narrows at the rim, it concentrates the wine aromas, this is good. In fact, the rim is wide enough I think it will fit my entire head in it, so I won’t be buying the “Wine Glass Mask” anytime soon. This glass is also very useful as a decanter, in fact I do not have to use another glass, I can drink the wine direct from my “decanter”.
Perhaps the most amusing part of my wine glass is the endless one liner jokes and comments it elicits, ranging from “But honey, I only had one glass of wine all evening” to “We’ll have to open a second bottle, there was only one glass left in that bottle”. In fact, this glass solves any guilt I may have about opening a magnum size bottle, half the bottle for me and the other half for the rest of our guests. I never get my glass mixed up with anyone else, so I do not need to label my glass with an ID tag. This keeps life simple, and allows me to focus on more important matters like enjoying my glass of wine.
It occurs to me that keeping it simple is what life is all about. So as I watch my dinner party guests lose their wine glass, or drink from the wrong glass, or inspect name tags in search of their own glass, I take comfort from having my own full bottle decanted, and served, in what is easily identifiable as “Reg’s Wine Glass”.
Your wine glass does indeed say something about you, so what does your wine glass say about you?