Fruit set is underway in Napa Valley

Fruit set is underway in Napa Valley

Monday, October 18, 2010

Through A Glass Starkly

 Wine enthusiasts know that quite a few years ago Riedel, (reedle) an Austrian wine glass producer, created an entirely new market niche of upscale, special purpose wine stemware. It’s underlying proposal, and one that has quite a few famous wine critics in agreement, is that the shape of the glass optimizes one’s level of wine appreciation. According to their information, the bouquet, taste, balance and finish are all affected by the shape of wine glasses that are individually designed for each wine and their underlying grape varietal(s). Since then, realizing that there were various levels of price-sensitive customers, their product line of hand blown and machine produced wine glasses has grown to over ten lines. At this writing they are the undisputed leaders in that market segment, particularly after buying out their major competitor.

However, I was surfing the Internet wine news recently and came across yet another entrant into the ultra-premium wine glass market. Silhouette is the name of their special wine glass, and while they concur with Riedel’s proposition that the wine glass makes all the difference, they moved into an entirely new direction by making a radical modification of traditional wine glass designs. Their stemware has a U-shaped gap in its side which allows you to place your nose well into the glass and closer to the wine. (I have a few friends who need no such assist and a few that definitely do. They all, however, are very handsome people.)

After taking several sniffs then, according to their video, you must remember to rotate the glass (i.e. the gap) 180 degrees to enjoy your first sip. Otherwise, if you’re distracted and don’t rotate, that opening will verily deliver the unintended but not surprising consequences of its provocative design. By the way, to help you overcome buyer’s uncertainty, their website proclaims ownership of the Silhouette “elevates you into that respected group of sophisticated wine drinkers.”  (If getting respect doesn't motivate you to place the order, nothing will.)

Truth be known, I agree that some crystal wine glasses are better suited than others when entertaining, particularly when it comes to pouring something special. And it is rather satisfying when swirling and sniffing a fine red wine from clear, thin-rimmed, tulip-shaped stemware.

If you’re in the market for wine stemware, they need not be expensive or hand made, and they shouldn’t require delicate hand-washing and drying. Except for Champagne flutes, which do perform their intended function quite well, all you really need is one large sized glass for swirling your reds and a smaller, more slender one for your whites. Otherwise, if you’re economizing, or need a few simple, utilitarian “daily drinkers,” a medium-to-large sized tulip-shaped glass will suffice for both red and white wines.

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