Winesday: Don't Forget About The Glass

Emma Jane-Doody Stetson

Wednesdays are my favorite day of the week!  I know that I have the New York Times Dining Section and a new episode of Top Chef to look forward to.  Now there’s one more reason to love them: our new weekly column, Winesday!  This is your pass to all things wine from amazing bottles to local retailers to restaurant vino offerings.

For the first article, I thought that I would cover a slightly atypical topic: the glasses in which we drink wine.  There are many articles about wine itself, but the vehicles in which we consume it is a less explored frontier.

I first encountered Bottega del Vino stemware at the Mohegan Sun Wine Fest and alluded to it in my article on the event.  Since then, I had the opportunity to try it for myself.  Some of you wanted further information, and now I can render my verdict!

Bottega del Vino Stemware

When I moved into my new apartment, I was slightly embarrassed to discover that the only dishware I had was a large assortment of wine glasses.  I practically collect them, and the more outrageous the better.  My wine glass of choice has a flashy Gossip Girl theme running around it, and the others are in various states of bedazzlement.  While I cherish my super-swank collection, none of the glasses are ideal for evaluating wine from a critical perspective.  I’ve always been slightly jealous of my friends with specialized glasses designed to heighten their tasting experience.

Thanks to the Mohegan Sun Wine Fest, I am now among the ranks of people who have a high-quality wine glass.  Not only that, I discovered the wine glass: a piece carefully designed to reveal all of the complexities a wine has to offer.  The brilliant stemware heralds from Bottega del Vino Crystal.  Although the small, artisanal company has its headquarters in Chicago, its products are available in Connecticut and it frequently partners with Mohegan Sun for wine-related events.

Bottega del Vino sums up its philosophy in its motto: “If the wine matters, so does the glass.”  They maintain that intentionally shaped, hand-made, crystal can markedly enhance the taste and aroma of wine.  I greeted the claim with healthy skepticism; as the daughter of a market-researcher, I’m suspicious of advertising strategy.  However, my curiosity was piqued and I took the opportunity to try it.

What I discovered can only be described as truly remarkable.  I selected a bottle I drink regularly, an Emma Pearl Merlot, which retails for about $13.  Since Bottega promises that the glass “makes an $8 bottle of wine taste like a $30 bottle,” I deliberately chose a wine that is tasty, yet accessible in price.  I served myself a standard five ounce pour in both a generic glass the Bottega piece.

I marveled at how impressive the Bottega glass looked looming over the normal piece on my counter.  The specialized piece, called the BV 7 in the collection, holds 30 ounces of fluid.  However, the intent is to fill it with only a five ounce pour.

“In order to breathe properly, a ratio of about 4 or 5 to 1, air to wine, is required,” read the instructions.

Next, I evaluated the smell.  I began by taking a whiff from my regular glass and smelled what I typically inhale: the traditional Merlot mix of pepper, cigar box, and red fruit.  Once that smell had subsided, I tipped my nose into the new glass.  Even before inhaling, I noticed how perfectly my nose fit into the wide rim.  The large glass literally allowed me to immerse myself in the wine.  Slowly, I inhaled.   It was like an entire world unleashed itself and goosebumps erupted on my arm.  I smelled fruit and spices I had never noticed in the wine before.  Cinnamon?  A pop of cherry?  Allspice?  Possibilities abounded!

“In addition to aeration from surface area… the size and shape create a ‘chimney’ effect and actually vent the alcohol away almost immediately,” explains Hall.  Rather than smelling the alcohol, people detect the fruits, berries, and other subtle components of the wine.  “The glass tunes out the noise,” he continues.

The glass made a significant difference in taste as well.  The wine originally tasted slightly tannic, but this sip proved smooth and round.  The wine tasted older, as if it had been evened with age.

To Bottega, the craftsmanship behind each piece is just as important as the effects they have on the drink itself.  Each glass is made by hand.  The company has kept the business small to ensure that artisans, not machines, create every single product.  The delicate stems are a particular area of focus.

“We prefer to remain a smaller company, and never offer a machine-made stem that would deliver a lesser experience,” Hall declares.

Similar stemware often proves fragile, but crystal from Bottega is labeled dishwasher safe.  “It’s not unbreakable, but it’s not fragile,” Hall told me while solidly rapping the glass on the surface of the table as proof.

At $50 for a BV 7 red wine glass, the price might seem steep.  I confess that the price deterred me in the beginning, but after experiencing the pronounced effects it has on the wine I consider it a solid investment.  I saw firsthand how the piece makes inexpensive wines rival their elite counterparts.  That saved cost alone practically compensates for the cost of the stemware.  Hall agrees.  While he recognizes the higher price, he explains that intricate process of producing such a high-quality glass necessitates it.

“Even though the initial cost of this glass is higher than a machine made glass, it quickly pays for itself by delivering significant value, night after night,” he explicates.

Moreover, the BV 7 will enhance any type of wine, regardless of type.

“You don’t need different glasses for different varietals,” Hall confirms.

If you don’t believe me, that’s fine.  In fact, I respect your skepticism and search of the truth.  However, Bottega is so adamant that you will enjoy your experience that they offer a guarantee.

“If you do not agree that our BV 7 Red Wine Glass provides an exceptional tasting experience, return your purchase for a full refund, no questions asked,” they say on their website.

Personally, I have no intention of returning my glass.  In fact, I plan to use it habitually and experience every glass of wine in a way I never would have been able to before.

Visit http:// to purchase or call 1.888.DEL.VINO to find your nearest merchant.