Wednesday, April 29, 2009

On stems

Wine drinkers don't needs lots of equipment to practice their hobby. Really, we just need a clear head and great stemware. Ahh, but that's just the thing - with so many brands, so many styles, how do you know which one to buy?

All this nonsense about having to match varietals with their specific glass shapes is just marketing theft. You're being robbed if you believe the idea that you should drink pinot noir only in Burgundy glasses. What you do need are crystal glasses. That is very important. Only with crystal do you get absolutely transparent glasses, with very thin rims and a very light weight.

I use Riedel and Spigelau. Of course, if I had the means, I would drink exclusively Riedel stems. The design, the feel of the stem in your hand, and the sensation when you swirl the wine - Riedel just feels right. Of course, a set of those Zalto Champagne glasses would be delicious as well.

It's always a problem, dealing with your glasses. It's inevitable that you break them - no matter how careful you are, crystal is crystal. I love Max Riedel's quip, that you shouldn't wash glasses the night that you've been drinking because, "the sink can appear very small and the glass very big." Storage is also an issue. Just don't have the space at home to keep a lot of different glasses, because I always try to buy 8 or 12 of the same glass. Looks better when you're entertaining a larger group. Don't want to have mismatched stems.

My everyday drinking glass is my Riedel Vinum Zinfandel glasses. I know, it's called Zinfandel, but I don't mind it. It's perfect for red and white wines, with a generous bowl and narrow rim. Really shows off all the wines very well, so far.

I also use my Spigelau Rheingau glass often. Mostly for rieslings, of course, but they also work well for cognac and other eau de vie.

There are two more glass types I would like to add to my collection. First would be tasting glasses. Very small glasses, that would work great for Champagne, Sauternes, and just about any other wine for those times when I want to be more focussed on tasting. Second would be Riedel Burgundy glasses. I used them when we tasted at a Niagara winery, for their spectacular pinot noirs, and just fell in love. Shows off the aromas and seductive perfumes of pinot noir perfectly.

So, to sum up: I don't believe you need 10 different glasses, but there's no doubt in my mind that the right stem takes your wine experience to a completely different level.

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