As my infatuation with wine has grown, so too has my growing attraction to wine glassware. I'll often spend half an hour or so browsing through the glassware section at stores such as David Jones, Harris Scarfe or Wheel and Barrow, while Beck looks at the clothes (or other girl-related items), it actually gives me something constructive to do! Also, every time we dine out at a restaurant, cafe or pub, I find myself scrutinising the choice of glassware almost as much as the food, service or wine list. I love a good wine glass, and I thoroughly enjoy drinking from them.
This post is dedicated to the glassware which I use to review the wines for Australian Wine Journal.
My own personal collection of glassware numbers close to 100 now, of which, the vast majority goes largely unused. I possess about 20 or so Champagne flutes and about another 20 tasting glasses, both of which come in handy for parties or organised tastings (which I haven't organised for nearly 2 years now), there's also a fair whack of old, cheap glasses which I only still have because no one's broken them yet.
These are the glasses that I do use for Australian Wine Journal and how they're used. Basically, they're my blogging 'tools' really.
Standard Wine Tasting Glass
To be honest I don't use these much anymore. Like I previously mentioned I have about 20 of these, and it amazes me the subtle differences between almost all of them. There was a time when I'd use these for lighter, aromatic whites, but now it's dessert wines and little else, except maybe the odd fortified. I also use these for assessing the aroma of sparkling/fortified wines on the side, as I find my Champagne flutes and Port/Liqueur glasses relatively insufficient for that purpose.
Of the ten or so different styles of Champagne flute I have, this is my favourite. I picked them up from Taltarni a few years ago, back when I was looking for an ultimate flute shape, and I love 'em. The glass is of very good quality and they're particularly delicate and fine. More recently however, I've found myself converted to the tulip shaped Champagne flutes (the type which always beat around with the big Champagne house logos emblazoned on them), so a couple of them are high on my 'to-buy' glassware list. Personally I don't use flutes for decent sparkling reds, I prefer red wine glasses.
Riedel White Tasting Glass
I drink almost all my white wines out of these. Semillon, riesling, sauvignon blanc etc all get chucked in the Riedel, as does almost all my chardonnay. As Australian chardonnay becomes finer, tighter, leaner, more elegant and mineral, I tend to use these glasses more. Personally I find the traditional Burgundy shape suits a fuller, more luscious and perhaps even worked or mature chardonnay better. I've also been known to pour the odd sparkling red in these babies. Top of my wine glass wish list is new glassware for aromatic whites. I know exactly the style I want (I'd call it the classic restaurant glass), but I've yet to find the exact style I want at the price I want.
Riedel Red Tasting Glass
By far the most used wine glass in my collection. When I bought these the sales lady told me I'd never use another glass again, and she wasn't that far off! They can reach as high as $50 retail, but you should really be able to pick one up for $20 or so, especially as numerous Australian cellar doors stock these with their logo printed on the glass. I'm happy to throw any half decent red in the Riedel (even good pinot noir) and all the top shelf stuff definitely gets poured straight in. Heavy (or typically Australian?) reds drink particularly well out of these, as do good quality sparkling reds.
Edinburgh Hotel Glass
Sorry about the plug but I'm always happy to promote The Ed; Adelaide's best pub. The Ed gives these out at their annual Great Shiraz Challenge and I'm quite glad, as they're actually very good glasses! I tend not to use these for top quality shiraz or cabernet, but I find they're great 'all-rounder' red glasses. I like lighter, softer style reds in these (even the odd white), sangiovese, merlot and cheaper blends in particular. In fact a lot of the cheaper, earlier drinking reds I review on Australian Wine Journal are drunk out of these glasses.
Yalumba 'Big Red' Glass
I'm not entirely sure what to call this beautifully shaped glass, but I do know I bought it from Yalumba, where they use them for their heavier reds at the cellar door. They were sold to me as full-bodied red glasses yet I bought them with dessert wines in mind. I still use these for fortifieds and stickies, but increasingly I'm using them for heavier reds, cabernet styles in particular. Maybe it's just the thought of where I bought it from but I also like viognier out of these glasses, as well as the odd chardonnay. The occasional sparkling red too. Once again these are pretty good all-rounders. Their exaggerated, tapered and closing shape at the top makes them ideal for capturing a wine's aroma.
Stolzle Burgundy Glass
I don't use these perhaps as much as I should, I'm just a little intimidated by their sheer size. I have slightly smaller Burgundy glasses but I still prefer the Stolzles. Personally I prefer very young pinot noir out of my Riedel red glasses, but I definitely like more mature, genuine pinot noir out of these. The same goes for chardonnay, where the mature stuff gets chucked straight in the Stolzles, but the younger wines generally end up in a Riedel. Nebbiolo, with its similar aromatic, perfumed qualities, has been known to find its way into Burgundy glasses at my place too.
These attractive little glasses are what I drink fortified styles from. They're very classy, blown crystal, Italian glassware and fairly pricey considering their small stature ($18 each). I like how I can get my nose into this glass (even with a decent pour), which is something I find a lot of port/liqueur glasses lack, as many of them are no larger than a single pour, or even a shot glass with a stem.
So there you have it - the official glassware of Australian Wine Journal! As you can see I do like to vary things up a bit! As with most people's glassware collections it is a collection in evolution, but this is what I use now.
For interest I also use a Zerutti turn decanter (I'm sure many of you will know the one) but I forgot to take a photo - whoops!
Also, I'm not a big fan of those stemless, O-Series Riedel glasses. I've used them several times before and because I have small hands I find them quite ungainly, as I hold them with both hands. They make me feel like a toddler sipping Ribena from a Tommie Tippie.