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Does different glassware really make a difference?

Zalto burgundy and Riedel champagne glass are the only two I’m using at the moment. Zalto for the burgundy/Barolo/Xinomarvo axis Riedel champagne for Rhone/Bordeaux/Chianti and err, Champagne.

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Glass is for transportation, silver is what ones drinks from.

I don’t think glasses are the be all and end all. However, I like a thin rim and lightweight glasses with a decent volume for aroma. Contradictially, I have a few sets of different riedel shape and I’m convinced they make a difference to some wines on some days. Just the other day a Bordeauxesk wine tasted poor in a Syrah glass but great in a Bordeaux one. But it wasn’t from Bordeaux so it’s difficult to know.

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As I said above I have two JR glasses

I’ve just measured the diameter across the rim.

One is 60mm and the other is 63mm

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I go for a barbell approach - some very expensive Zalto (may one day try Gabriel but probably the machine made ones), and the rest a mix from TK Maxx, which seems to have large, thin wine glasses at remarkable prices (periodically I buy eight so as to give the same glass when friends come over, and have a couple spare).

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Thank you, that’s very helpful.

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Jane,
the 6 Zalto Universals that I have are all 65mm across the rim.

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We’ve used Riedel Vinum Riesling for whites and Syrah for reds for many years, and I like them, but have a hankering to try something different. Zaltos appeal but the price and breakage risk put me off.

Do those using Gabriel glasses go for the machine-made, relatively affordable option, or the handmade? I guess the handmade will be more comparable to Zaltos but they’re out of my fiscal league and I wonder how different the machine-made ones really are as a drinking experience.

Jim

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I had Zalto universals but broke both of them and bought 6 of the Gabriel machine-blown for the same price. They’re really nice to drink from, but can’t compare them to your current glasses as I don’t know them.

I think they are more durable than the Zaltos though - they’ve already survived ordeals the Zaltos didn’t. Definitely better for me but I am very clumsy.

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I enjoy the tactile pleasure of a nice glass but for me I’d rather spend the money on the contents than the container, and not worry about breaking them, serving them to friends and family, etc.

The only thing that I can rationalize that (might) affect the aroma/flavour is the shape of the bowl and it’s ability to hold volatiles, the rest IMHO is just subjective, and adds to the wine drinking pleasure in other ways. Visual appearance is important and I get that aesthetics add to the pleasure for many.

The two glasses above are near identical in bowl shape - one is £4 and goes in the dishwasher and the other is £40+

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Thanks Andrew, much appreciated.

There’s not a huge difference between the diameter of the Zalto and JR then. Hmmm, decisions. I have 2 Zalto Universals on order from Wineware but they’ve been waiting for stock since March and the date keeps being put back, they’re now due in early July. But they have the JR in stock.

We have Zalto glasses and they look absolutely lovely, but I’m actually a bit scared to use them. They are so delicate and the stem is so thin that I’m always worried I will accidentally break it just by holding it/sipping from it. If you are confident in drinking and swirling, then it must be a very pleasant experience drinking from them, but I just feel nervous about breaking them so I can’t properly enjoy the wine. For this reason, we also have some Spiegelau glasses which are more sturdy and have a thicker stem and rim. Smaller and not as elegant as the Zaltos, but a similar shape so they still look nice, and I feel confident holding and swirling them, meaning I can at least enjoy the wine and experience.

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To be honest, that is why I ended up with the JR glasses - I was tempted by the Gabriel glass from Newcomer wines but they were out of stock and I couldn’t find them anywhere else. Likewise zalto were hard to get hold of and I wanted to try something different as a universal glass (I think at the time I wanted a pair and could only get one zalto). If you break them then (for me at least) it’s nice to know you can get a replacement relatively quickly. Other places seem to have stock of zalto ( eg philglas & swiggott seem to have stock) if you were considering cancelling the wineware order.

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The Society used to sell a range of Society brand glassware; I bought several lots of ‘The Society’s Large Wine Glass’, and still have a good few of these left. They aren’t actually very large by today’s standard (height 190mm) and seem a bit variable in quality, glass thickness and weight vary somewhat. However I still use them, mostly for cheaper wines and for use outdoors, and save my Reidel glasses for better wines.
@Kelly do you know of any plans to reintroduce Society label glassware?

@JaneC @GHobson and @Kelly
I have had Riedel, JR and Zalto.
I have broken, at some point, all three.
The Zalto Burgundy I broke it because I was drying it holding the stem. Stupid. A split second before it broke I knew it would snap and it went off like a pistol shot. Save for that one instance I have hand washed and dried them for over 3 years. 9 Burgundy 12 white wine, and 6 Universal 2 Champagne and 2 sweet wine glasses.
The JR glass broke because I pushed too much drying cloth into the bowl and it shattered in slow motion. Glass everywhere.
The Riedel broke again because I was drying it holding the stem.
I use “Trendy bartender” drying cloths. They are on Amazon but often sold out…

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It is amazing how different the same wine can taste from two identical glasses!

My wife and I have broken many Zaltos, typically when hand washing, but we still love them. The Zalto Universal is our favourite general wine glass, good for everything except Champagne (for which I like Riedel’s Sommelier’s Vintage Champagne). I wish TWS sold them.

For red Burgundy, I’ve been experimenting with the Conterno Sensory glass. I’m not sure I prefer it to the Zalto Burgundy but do appreciate its smaller bowl and shorter stem, which makes it less of a fish bowl and less fragile.

One thing to note about all of these hand-blown glasses is the significant variation in their weights from glass to glass of the same type, as much as a 25% difference I have found, usually from the thickness of the stem. The lighter glasses are more pleasant to use.

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+1 For TK Max glasses, a wide and random range, good value and you don’t have too sad when you inevitably break them.
Having said that, after looking at the video I might try a couple of Riedel for comparison.
I do try and support UK companies so always look out for Dartington at TK and their factory tour is pretty interesting too!

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I would add the diameter of the rim - it needs to be big enough to get your nose in comfortably while drinking.

You might think that is low bar, but some glasses, notably ISOs and flutes, do not rise to the challenge. Neither do small glasses sometimes offered fro sweet wines. I also seem to remember that some more extreme bowl shapes also make getting your nose in tricky, but I can’t remember which.

Zalto’s gave me the fear when I first got them, but they are actually quite robust. Like @Andrew1990 I have broken a wide range of glasses and I have found Riedel glasses much easier to break than Zalto’s.

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I have two JR ones, and I love them.

Their advice for washing is dishwasher only. No handwashing.

I haven’t got a dishwasher - so I rinse only in very hot water.

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