There Were Streaks Of Amber
There were streaks of amber, some liquid gold. The 85 Lopez de Heredia Rose just bounced off the glass onto the wooden floor against the glass windows and sent these shimmers of a sunset captured in a mid afternoon glass of wine. I stopped midweek to look at this play of light and I started thinking of what would have happened to wine if glass had not been invented. Would it be murky, embers of dark secrets and keepers of more??
If you look back historically there was the Plestian age when the Iberians and Britons used baking clay. The Bronze Age then took over and of course the Romans even used lead. Pottery Goblets of various forms and sizes, silver flagons, leather vessels, ostrich egg cups, pewter and so many other fun vessels. Games and connotations evolved with each one. One drank from whatever was sturdy and was the metal of the time.
But of course when the Italians mastered the fine art of making quality glass it all changed. Suddenly people started looking at what their glasses looked like or rather did the wine inside it look interesting? And this holds till today. How often do we do the tilt of the glass - we look to see its depth, its intensity in colour? Through the glass we observe the pale red of a burgundy, the colour of brick that suggests age, salmon hues, green, gold and so much more. We look at the patterns on the surface it reflects on. I watch to see a white wine suddenly explode onto another surface mimicking the thousand splendoured sky almost "like the heavens embroidered cloths".
Today of course glass comes in all shapes and forms. Heavy crystal, colourless crystal, Riedel glasses that advocate a separate shape for each varietal. The choices are endless. So of course you are going to ask if the shape of the glass makes a difference. Aromatically yes…! There is a certain sacrilege to drinking a Grand Cru Burgundy in a white wine glass, let alone a Bordeaux glass. There is a tenderness in aromatics that requires a certain amount of exposure to air. This helps in what we call maximizing the bouquet . Glass that is as thin as possible invokes a communion with the wine that most wine aficionados know and understand. You can of course buy the Riedel glasses that are made for not just varietals but sometimes as specific as vintage and tawny port. The Riedel glasses evolved after thorough research into flavour profile as well as how a minute variation in glass design can optimize the sensory perceptions of wine.
Then we have the tumblers…I must confess they are fun. Never mind fingerprints et all. I like them for dinner on the couch; it’s the single girls’ glassware. It’s simple, unpretentious but it has this charm that makes it cool. Would I raise an eyebrow if they served me a wine in wrong glassware? In this case I would say each man to his own. I personally would not mind unless of course it was that perfect bottle of burgundy I have found after years. This was a case in point for sure when I did not let my very young 27 year old wine buddy drink his 98 Vosne Romanee out of plastic cups. Now champagne I might even forgive. We all have our affectations…
A few years ago when I spent a vendage in Burgundy I remember sitting down to dinner with the winemaker and his family. It was an elaborate 8 course meal, simple because it had all been made by his daughter in law; almost all ingredients but the meat form their land. He opened his 1990 Chassagne Montrachet a premier Cru I vividly remember and poured them out in rock glasses. It tasted perfect. It was not about the glass or the wine or the winemaker but the moment.
Written By: Seema Parthasarathy - Seema is a Certified Sommelier with an Indian soul and European Palate... She will work for champagne.