by Jeff Miller of Artisan Family of Wines (Seven Artisans, Sly Dog Cellars, Red Côte)
What makes for the perfect wine glass? One could answer, at least in theory, that it’s the one that shows off the wine the best.
But that’s a little too limiting. There’s a wealth of data out there which demonstrates that the same person, tasting the same wine, will rate that wine higher when he thinks it’s a first growth Bordeaux than when he thinks it’s a middle of the road California quaffer. I have to think the same thing goes on with the wine glass. If I hand you two glasses of the same wine, one in a drop-dead gorgeous glass and one in your standard cheapo wine glass, you’re going to be biased in favor of the better glass based on looks alone. I know I would be.
So while how the glass shows off the wine is important, it’s a beauty contest as well.
At any rate, I spent quite some time surfing the internet trying to find out what was out there. Obviously, that’s a pure beauty contest, since all you can do is see an image. But you have to start somewhere.
Surprisingly, I didn’t find finding glasses as easy to do as I would have thought. Finding glasses retail was a cinch, but finding who distributed them wasn’t always as easy. To get a sample of something often meant emailing some glass company in Europe in order to find out who handled their distribution here. But I ended up finding the main ones I was interested in.
I can’t say as I’m for sure done, but I think I’ve gotten everything that is “in the running” for the final selection. They are:
Schott Zwiesel Cru Classis Burgunder
Stolzle Revolution Pinot/Burgundy
Stolzle Classic Red
As the names indicate, the first two are burgundy, larger-bowl styles. The last is a bordaux style glass. I got several other samples from other manufacturers, but these three seemed to stand out from the rest.
A look at the picture of these glasses demonstrates how different these three are in style. The Revolution is a very modern design, while the other two are pretty traditional. I would say that, looking at them just in terms of beauty, the Schott Zwiesel stands out for me. It’s really one of the prettiest glasses I’ve ever seen.
But on to the taste test. And there, I was really kind of supplied by the results. I would have predicted that the Bordeaux shape would have excelled here, but it didn’t. I tried several different wines in the three glasses, and in every case the Bordeaux lagged behind the two burgundy style glasses. I can’t say as I thought any of the three really made a dramatic difference in how the wine smelled, just in the intensity of the aromas. The two burgundy glasses were pretty much a tie, while the Bordeaux just didn’t concentrate the aromas to quite the same extent.
Obviously, besides beauty and tasting, there are other factors to consider. The Schott Zwiesel is titanium which means it should last longer. It’s more expensive, but if it lasts twice or three times as long, that more than makes up for the cost difference.
I can’t ignore that the the Schott Zwiesel is more expensive, which means there’s more of an initial outlay. As you’re trying to get up and running and keep within some sort of budget, that’s an important factor.
At this point, I am leaning towards the Schott Zwiesel, but that could change, particularly if the other startup costs eat too much into our checking account balance.
But it’s not just wine glasses that you need to choose. Need spit buckets, soap and towels for the bathroom, tables for merchandise, etc., etc., etc. The list seems to be endless.