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It’s all about the base

| AJIT BALGI
Published : Nov 10, 2016, 10:50 pm IST
Updated : Nov 10, 2016, 10:50 pm IST

With a range of wine glasses available in the market, here’s how to pick out the right one — ensure it’s got the right base, bowl and mouth

With a range of wine glasses available in the market, here’s how to pick out the right one — ensure it’s got the right base, bowl and mouth

Wine has a rich and varied history that goes back to the end of the BC era and the beginning of AD. To consume the drink, clay and metal goblets, with thin stems were first used nearly 2,000 years ago. And as time passed, many shapes and names were added to the repertoire — the Jacobite glass, the wine tasters, Hanaps and more. Glasses came into the limelight first with the creation of clear glass in 8 BC, and then with the invention of the clear lead crystal glass, back in 17th century. Since then, advances in glass tech have ensured that consumers get the best out of their glassware. However, with the plethora of options available, choosing the right one for your tipple can be a challenge.

Crystal versus glass Crystal essentially is glass that contains up to 30 per cent minerals like lead and zinc. These toughen the glass and allow the same durability in a thin glass. Even so, classic glass is made thick and is therefore more durable. Crystal always has an upper hand since it’s light, clearer and sparkly, providing a better wine experience with a thin rim. It is also expensive, and starts at `1,500 a pair.

Shape matters With science coming into play, there’s a wine glass for every grape variety available in the market. A wine glass consists of the base, the stem and the bowl, the last one making all the difference. The circumference of the bowl and mouth and the height of the bowl in a particular combination, allows that particular grape variety to shine in the glass by showing its character to the fullest. For those who find the variants too much to deal with, a red wine glass and a white wine glass should work for every day drinking. The red wine ones are bigger and allow aromas to express themselves, while the white one’s are smaller to maintain the temperature and aromas.

Champagne flute The champagne flutes and earlier saucers or coupes have always been about elegance rather than functionality. The erstwhile coupes, as history says, were crafted out of Marie Antoinette’s bosom, and were phased out, as they let the bubbly fizzle in no time. Flutes and tulips came in next and are still the norm today. However, I feel they do little justice to letting one sense the profound bouquet that a wine has to offer. Stick to white wine glasses and pour a little at a time!

Stemless wine glasses The best of glass companies have a stemless collection. However, they’re faux pas in gourmet settings, especially in the Indian temperatures. Our body temperatures of 37 degree Celsius can easily raise the heat of the liquid, rendering them useless. Stem glasses are meant for picnics, as they’re easy to carry and also do a better job than disposables. That said, the most important wine glasses must be hand-washed with just hand water and no detergents.

Why clink Clinking of wine glasses before drinking started because Europeans believed it wards off evil, thanks to the church bell-like sound it made. Some also believe that people did it so vigorously to let drinks mix with others’ glasses, just in case someone was trying to poison the other. The clinking also showed faith in the other person then. Not to mention the common belief that not looking into the eyes of your drinking partner while clinking can lead to having bad sex life for seven years! So clink hard. Cheers!

Ajit Balgi is the founder of wine and beverage consulting and experience firm, The Happy High