By Michael "Ty" Taiani
How many times has this happened? Yup, another valuable, yet now broken, wine glass for the trash can. And I can attest, as careful as I am, I have broken countless ones. As a matter of fact, in the process of drying a large and costly red wine glass after an informal "get-together," all the while holding the stem's base (which I always did and thought was correct), I sustained a somewhat scary injury. The fragile stem, under the pressure of my working hands, snapped at midpoint and punctured my right arm just shy of striking a major blood vessel - the half-inch scar still remains as a reminder nearly five years later. A valuable lesson learned: Whenever drying the bowl of a stemmed wine glass, cradle the glass from under the bowl instead of holding it at the stem's base!
So anyway... alas, then comes modern science and technology to the rescue - and I'm not referring to the clear plastic stuff found at Party City. About two years ago I began to hear rumors of unbreakable* stemware in production mainly for the restaurant/bar trade. Yes, unbreakable - but under normal use and conditions. Surviving a drop from table to floor they can... from the observatory of the Empire State Building to 34th Street they won't!
And what makes them more durable over conventional glass stemware? Well take note here: it's not one particular thing but rather a combination of different techniques and formulations from start to finished product. But unfortunately, the better manufacturers are unwilling to disclose in-detail what they are doing and/or not doing. Those are trade secrets of course - though one commonality is that all seem to be formed from 100% lead-free molten glass. I discovered, too, that some use platinum (a costly ingredient), while others use magnesium as strengtheners.
Okay, price? Expect to pay somewhere in the $45 to $80 range for a set of six. Are they worth the investment (give or take), at $10 per glass? Ask yourself these questions: How often will they be used? Do I enjoy drinking wine enough? Then furthermore, to make the decision more difficult, all of the producers offer nearly a dozen styles with unique designs made to enhance a particular wine or style. So which one to choose?
Here’s my best advice: If you consume and enjoy wine regularly, and/or you are considered by many as a klutz, then take the plunge. And as for glass style, go the middle ground. In other words, a glass that will enhance both red and white wines.
Oh, one more thought. These are a great gift idea for any occasion!
Specific producers and brands to seek:
Wine Enthusiast Fusion*
Michael Taiani Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), aka “Ty the Wine Guy,” is a food and wine consultant and marketer. Assisting people with food and wine is his passion. www.tytwg.com.