Sunday, September 7, 2014

"I cook with wine,

sometimes I even add it to the food.”  ~ W.C. Fields 

Curiosity always gets me.  Fortunately, I have a degree in Library Science so research is second nature, but, as I was wrapping a customer's purchase of several wine glasses, I was thinking why the fine stems.  Why not just a typical tumbler?  There are reasons.
The 14th century merchants of Venice set the standard of elegance in wine-drinking by combining the skills of the glassblower and designer. According to my research, "the clarity and transparency of their cristallo glass allowed the color of the wine to be fully appreciated. The Venetian style persisted in the next centuries, however the ever-changing style of interior decoration influenced new designs for glasses."

In the 1670s an Englishman George Ravenscroft developed a new formula for glass using lead oxide. The lead glass was softer, stronger, heavier and more luminous. When first introduced, the styles continued to emulate the Venetian forms, however, the lead glass was too heavy and slow to set. In the 1690s the more simplified style of balustrade stems consisting of bold, massive “knops” came into fashion, modeled after the furniture of the time.
When the dining room became a clearly defined space within the house in the 18th and 19th centuries,  and formal dining customs were established, dining became a ritual, and dishes, flatware, and glasses had to match.   In the 19th century wine glasses were usually produced in sets. More enhancements were made over the years, and by the 1950s, some manufacturers produced different shapes and sizes for different variations of wine.
There really is a reason wine glasses are shaped the way they are, and the stems are not just for decoration. The proper way to hold your wine glass is by the stem.  Traditionally, white wine, excluding sparkling, is meant to be served at a temperature between 48 and 58 degrees Fahrenheit. The recommended temperature for serving red wine is between 58 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Should you hold the glass by the cup, your hand will warm the wine too quickly and the flavor might not hold as well as you wish.

Although wine glasses are primarily designed for the drinking of wine, people have used them in a variety of ingenious ways, including the teaching of sounds. (crystal glasses produce specific notes when struck)  If you want a wine glass, there is really no single good or bad glass unless you are  evaluating wine, and then subtle differences can impact your wine tasting.
The most popular is the chimney shape wine glass, which has a broader bottom and tapers towards its brim. You will have enough space to hold enough wine and still swirl it around safely. On the other hand, the narrow opening concentrates the aromas that will help you in your assessment.
The overall shape is more important than the size of your wine glass. Some people have points in favor of larger glasses while others argue equally well for smaller ones. What is important is that you choose a wine glass that you are comfortable with (mason jars work well depending on the day you have had).
Don't use soap when cleaning your wine glass, which may get trapped and interfere with the taste of the wine. Just rinse well using hot water.
“Do you drink?"
"Of course, I just said I was a writer.”
~Stephen King

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