This year my New Year’s Resolution was to not give up wine. It’s purely medicinal – I’m nursing a fractured ticker. And, just quietly, so far I’m killing it.
I have a long-standing love affair with the red grape – preferably served in fine crystal in the company of haute cuisine (by which I mean dark chocolate). But when I’m reading Raymond Chandler, I sip my whiskey on the rocks. If the vibe is cosmopolitan, I’ll take a shot of Patrón. I’m versatile like that. A balmy summer’s day demands a glass of ice-cold beer and marking milestones necessitates a flute of bubbly.
Don’t get me wrong. I like to have a good time but I’m no Dean Martin.* I may not be able to smell the difference between a pinot and a grenache, but I’m refined.
I like to do things nice and I like nice things. For me, glassware is the icing on my entertaining and fine liquor deserves a stylish home.
This post will help you match your glassware to your favourite tipple.
*The King of Cool is quoted as saying, “You’re not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on.” Ummm…
The old-fashioned glass aka lowball or rocks glass
A tumbler blessed with multiple names, it’s associated with spirits such as brandy and whisky served on ice. Short with a wide brim and a thick base, it’s designed to release the flavours of your drink.
Named after the old-school New York cocktail merging muddled sugar with bitters and brandy, the old-fashioned exudes Mad-Men style. Marquis by Waterford or Royal Doulton’s Retro Tumblers do masculine elegance in cut-glass. Krosno offers timeless Polish looks and Maxwell & Williams, chic, modern flair.
The champagne flute
When it comes to toasting the occasion, everyone loves bubbles. And whilst delivering an appropriate speech is tricky, finding the perfect flute is not.
Crystal glassware is graceful and sophisticated with its superior colour, brilliance and exceptional ring. The material itself refracts more light and its microscopic roughness is said to develop more intense aromas to tease your palate. (Sounds good to me.)
Traditional flutes rock a tapered slender profile to reduce the surface area for bubble-bursting and prolong that sparkling taste. Coupe champagne glasses evoke 40s’ decadence with their svelte wide-mouthed shape. I adore their modish Art Deco look. They drank and played fast at those wild parties.
Whilst crystal glassware is exquisite, it’s not for everyone. Hand washing is recommended – so if you’re not keen on dishes, there are equally elegant options in fine glass.
The wine glass – red v. white
Whether different grape varietals respond to the shape of the glass is controversial. Red wine glasses have a rounder, wider bowl to increase oxidation and enhance flavour (nice). Bordeaux glasses direct the wine to the back of the mouth for Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah varietals while burgundy glasses have a wider bowl to tease out the aromas of the more delicate wines. By contrast white wine glasses promote slower oxidation through a smaller mouth.
While stemmed wine glasses are meant to keep your wine at its optimum temperature, wine tumblers, or stemless wine glasses, are becoming increasingly popular. They’re uber-modern and sleek. Or opt for an old-world goblet instead for a touch of gothic glamour.
Let’s end with a bang! The shot glass is associated with the Wild West saloons.
Cowboys reportedly traded bullets for a snifter of alcohol. This little gem of glassware delivers your fave liquor at an accelerated rate, like a seductive slap to the face. It wakes you up but leaves you wanting more.
So that’s the wrap. To all the yogis out there, I say this: although I envy for your ability to wake clear-headed in the wee hours – even before your daily vipassana meditation – my natural inclination is towards the Frank Sinatras of the world. As that wise sage once said,
“I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day”.
Variety is the spice of life and a celebration of your palate. Let’s indulge.
So, what’s your favourite adult beverage? Cocktail? Snifter? Pint?