Many of us enjoy a nice glass of wine whether it be a full-bodied red like a Cabernet Sauvignon to a delicate, fruity-aromatic pinot noir. We never really examine the glass that we are served the wine in because wine is always poured into a wine glass, right?
Have you ever wondered why this is the norm?
Surely, wine can be drunk our of regular glass, but history shows us that wine glasses matter.
If you go way back in time around 7000 BC, folks were crushing grapes and making their own wines. The proof can be found in archeological documentation.
By 50 AD, the ancient city of Rome and the capital of Italy were already into glass-making and the art of mold-blowing. That is when hot glass is blown into a mold made of clay, wood or metal.
The wealthy enjoyed collecting these beautiful glasses, and soon, footed cups or goblets became status symbols and often came embellished with jewels and gold or silver encrustment. The wine was poured into these elegant “wine glasses, ” and the rest is history so to speak.
By the Renaissance (mid-15th century), Venetian glassblowers got even fancier when they started creating gorgeous, thin glasses made of Cristallo. The colorless glass resembled rock crystal and made for some amazing designs featuring stems molded in the shape of lions, for example. If you had a lot of money, then collecting these wine glasses was no problem.
In 1673, an English businessman named George Ravenscroft expanded on the wine glass industry by inventing clear lead crystal glass in England. The leaded glass was easier to work with than the Cristallo glass.
Ravenscroft went as far as applying to King Charles II for a patent in 1674 to become the sole manufacturer of lead crystal glass in England.
The wine glass continued to evolve over the years, and by the 20th century, experts noticed that the wine glass was getting thinner, but the size of the glass itself was growing in size.
Bohemian glassmaker Claus Riedel took the wine glass even further by pairing his wine glasses with certain wines. Riedel played around with various shapes and sizes of stemware, and he discovered that the aroma and taste of a particular wine could be altered.
In 1973, Riedel introduced 10 different glass shapes to the wine industry, and those glasses are still used as standards today.
Many modern scientific studies have looked at wine glasses and their shapes and sizes and have determined that wine does not taste differently in the container it is poured in and drunk out of.
In other words, if you enjoy a lovely Zinfandel out of regular glass, it will taste as luscious as if served in the finest, jewel-encrusted, crystal goblet.
Wine and glassware have come a very long way, and we all have unique palates, so let us drink to that.