Kelly J. Hayes: WineInk
September 25, 2011
So there were two different parties last weekend. On Friday night, the soiree was hosted by serious wine folk who have a great collection of wines and the glassware to go with it. The following night was a much more casual affair, around the grill next to the swimming pool, and the wine, not plonk mind you, but some above average wines that were all terrific choices, was served in plastic cups.At the first party featured Riesling, Chardonnay, a couple of good Pinots from Oregon and a big Cabernet which paired perfectly with the boeuf la bourguignonne main course. Oh, and a desert wine was served, complimenting a great end-of-season peach tart. With 10 couples and a couple of singles participating, there were well over 100 glasses use. That’s right, more than 100 glasses. And three or four were used for the final time as the fragile stems and rims snapped under the weight of the night.Now I fully embrace the value of the glass part of a great glass of wine. The shape of the bowl, the quality of the crystal, the weight and feel of the vessel in the hand all enhance the experience. But in a home environment, with the glasses stacking up in the kitchen after each course like planes over O’Hare, it all seems a bit, shall we say, excessive.The next night the issue was just the opposite. Sure, with a group of 20 or so friends the easiest thing to do is grab a bag of plastic glasses, set them next to the wine and let folks fend for themselves. No fuss, no muss, just leave a black bag in a trashcan so people can simply dump the plastic when done. But the joy of sipping from a glass is so superior to that of gulping from a cup and the issue of disposing a synthetic substance so repellent that there must be a better way.What the world needs now, aside from love sweet love of course, is an affordable, sturdy and simple wine glass that works well with just about any grape. Enter Andrea Immer Robinson, a master sommelier (and a veteran of Windows on the World which was remembered in this space on Sept. 11), who has launched a new line of stemware titled, appropriately, “The ONE.” These glasses sell for around $12 apiece, are as strong as a beer stein and, according to Immer Robinson, one of the world’s finest palates, out-perform a “Bordeaux” stem (a tall, semi taperedglass) with Bordeaux and Cab, and the “Burgundy” stem a bigger glass that is broader in the middle and narrower at the top) with Burgundy and Pinot Noir.Now in fairness there may be some hyperbole in that last boast. There are some great Bordeaux glasses on the market and the masters from Riedel may take exception to the claim. But in a tasting this summer at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen they worked wonderfully. They felt elegant and balanced in the hand, the shape of the bowl, with a wide waist that tapered as it rose to the top of the rim, held the flavors and aromas in the glass and the wine poured easily when tipped. There are actually two of “The ONE” glasses. One for white and one for red wine varietals. The are made in Germany using lead-free crystal, are designed to be dishwasher safe and compatible and are sold in two-packs and four packs on Andrea’s website, http://www.andreawine.com/.Now The One may not be the only solution for the perfect glass and you may not wish to stock up with 20 to 40 glasses of a single type for your party animals. But there is joy in finding a perfect stem for your own wine-drinking needs. Despite being fortunate enough to have a number of crystal glasses accumulated over the decades, there is one set of six glasses that I use 90 percent of the time. They are heavy, large crystal glasses that were hand blown in the glassworks of Simon Pearce in Quechee, Vt. Purchased as seconds at the factory, each has some minor flaw (or some would say, perfection) that prevented them from making the floor at the Pearce shops located in some of the toniest neighborhoods in the world. But each time I pour a wine into these works of art and toast a friend, the sound of the crystal resonates in the room. When I tip the glass and feel the craftsmanship, the wine tastes just a little more special. For me, these glasses are the one. Find your glass.
Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be-designated appellation of Old Snowmass with his wife, Linda, and a black Lab named Vino. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.