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During last month’s Holiday Hangout with Globe readers, there was a lot of interest about different styles of wineglasses. Based on comments in the chatbox during the session and follow-up e-mails, people are looking for help to sort through the options available.
There are countless brands and many specialty glasses on the market to consider, from basic barware and supermarket selections to more custom products. The good news is you can usually find some deals at this time of year.
An all-purpose shape that works with a wide range of wines is always useful. My wish list would feature a thin rim that tapers in toward the top to concentrate the aromas. I also would add dishwasher-friendly to limit the amount of breakage in my home. (I know many connoisseurs religiously hand-wash their glasses using only hot water to ensure no residue will alter the flavour of the next wine. I’m used to giving my glasses a quick rinse with the wine I’m pouring to eliminate any lingering rinse agent.) Try various shapes, weight and designs on for size. It often comes down to what feels right in your hand.
What works best is often a deeply personal choice. You might prefer a lightweight glass or something more substantial. You may gravitate to a stemless style, due to storage or dishwasher considerations. You could wish a large bowl to complement the bold red wines that you prefer. A classic burgundy fishbowl on a stem glass to suit pinot noir, for instance.
Riedel continues to command attention with its extensive range of grape- and region-specific glasses, available in a variety of collections, including the popular Vinum range and the recently released Winewings series. I like the shape of the Vinum syrah glass as an effective universal shape, while a recent conversation with British wine expert Hugh Johnson revealed he prefers the Vinum water glass for its functionality and durability. The popularity of the Riedel brand makes it easy to find at various retailers.
A number of specialist companies counter Riedel’s multi-faceted approach by selling what they believe to be the perfect one size, one shape, all-purpose wine glass. Some of these are worth a look if you’re serious about investing in stemware. Many in the industry champion the virtues of the universal glasses made by Gabriel-Glas and Zalto, while others appreciate the more recently launched wine glass produced by Jancis Robinson x Richard Brendon. As the founder/editor of the Oxford Companion to Wine and co-author of The World Atlas of Wine, Robinson is one of the most influential authorities on wine. With suggested retail prices starting around $45 per glass, these are designed for a specific audience. Many wine drinkers are happy sipping out of a more affordable alternative while spending their money for what’s served in their glass.