Fine wine lovers need no further convincing when it comes to whether glass shapes matter. Enjoying a glass of your favourite Grand Cru Burgundy in a voluptuous Burgundy glass instead of a sleek, slender white wine glass deliver more than just additional visual impact when you swirl that crimson liquid across the broad surface area in a Burgundy bowl.
The main argument in support of the need of various glass shapes go to the issue of aeration. In brief, different grape varieties have different aroma volatility threshold, which in turn affect the amount of aeration they need in order to volatilize effectively for the drinker’s enjoyment. Beyond the aeration aspect, the aroma retention ability of a wine glass is perhaps the second most important aspect.
We see a vast range of wine glass brands, each going into great depth, researching and creating glass shapes that optimize both olfactory and tasting experience of wines. Riedel as a wine glass leader chose to develop an elaborate wine glass range, to the point where if you are a lover of all wines, Riedel will have a glass from each variety to each style that you like. (Jokingly we have always wondered when Riedel is going to launch a full-length wine glass cabinet.) Zalto, the emerging connoisseur darling, boasts a beautiful hand-blown range covering conventional styles, plus a creative no-base glass Gravitas Omega, which seeks to appeal to Burgundy wine lovers going for a more gentle form of aeration when the glass rolls naturally on the dining table.
We love both brands. Though, as with wines, it is always more fun looking for hidden gems and quality alternatives. We recommend all fine wine drinkers to explore these four mouth-blown wine glass series when you next stock up your glasses.
Mark Thomas: Double Bend Series
Zalto, and Mark Thomas, are both considered as equals when it comes to the Austrian cult wine glass producer category. If you like paper-thin mouth-blown glasses, these two are your top choices. Mark Thomas Double Bend design i.e. a broad bowl surface area that gently widen until being deliberately bent and visibly narrow at the rim, claims to optimize wine aeration and aroma retention. Consider Mark Thomas Selection series if you are more a fan of the Zalto look.
Lobmeyr: Ballerina Series
Founded since 1823, Vienna-headquartered Lobmeyr was the preferred glassmaker of European Royalty from the Austrian Imperial Court, to the Belgian Court of Flanders. Lobmeyr has seen and evolved through history – a lot longer than its Austrian counterparts Riedel (founded 1956) or Mark Thomas (founded 2013). Lobmeyr has an extensive selection of crystal glassware ranging Venetian goblet designs to sleek modern shapes. For us, oddly, we love the Lobmeyr Ballerina “Water Glass en stem” (the 4th glass count from the left). An incredible airy light, ultra thin glass well suited for bringing out nuanced aromas.
Shotoku: Usuhari Bordeaux Series
How about something from the East? Japanese glass maker Shotoku‘s first stint with glass was actually making mouth-blown light bulb. As the light bulb industry entered the age of automation, Shotoku shifted its focus to making mouth-blown glassware. We thought that their Usuhari Bordeaux glasses are great alternatives to those who like Riedel “O” series. The entire glass is less than 1mm thick and adequately match the level of craftmanship of leading Western glassmaking counterparts. Its stemless design makes it easy for you to carry them around.
Lucaris: Shanghai Soul Grande Series
Closer to Hong Kong still is Thailand glassmaker Lucaris. They may not be the finest stemware in your collection, though we applaud them for their sturdiness (that extra dose of titanium does make them stronger and less likely to accidentally break when being washed and polished) and value-for-money. Specifically, their Burgundy glass adopts the good old tulip-shaped design. The flared-out rim is believed to help direct the wine to the tip of your tongue, delivering a smooth transition between the olfactory and tasting experience of wine drinking.