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BY THE GLASS

A Guide to Enjoying Wine to the Full

Our first acquaintance with wine harks back about 9000 years, in China. It was only around 4100 BC in Armenia, however, that wine production kicked off in earnest. Glassware, on the other hand, is a more recent invention – that is, 1500 BC recent – when the ancient Egyptians and Syrians started making glasses out of moulds. Over the next three and a half millennia, glassware would evolve from clunky, murky receptacles into clear, ultra-refined crystal. But why the need for this level of craftsmanship? At some point, something must have prompted us to look at a clay bowl or goblet (if we were being really fancy) and decide we can do better. Well, the answer may very well be wine.

Wine has long been considered sacred – both for its mind-altering qualities and the ritual of drinking. While we may no longer hold strong religious connotations to our beloved beverage, wine continues to mesmerise. When we drink it, we are savouring a moment; colour, aroma and taste all contribute to the experience. And, whether driven by nostalgia or fuelling a new memory, we drink wine in pursuit of the sheer enjoyment it brings. The glass in which we pour wine, then, is just as much a part of the experience as the wine itself.

As Jancis Robinson (one of the world’s most respected wine critics) puts it, “Wine glasses need not be complicated. The perfect wine glass has a stem and a bowl that goes in towards the rim, so that you can safely swirl the wine, maximising its surface area and therefore encouraging all those flavour messages to escape and gather in the space between the wine’s surface and the rim of the glass.” She adds that the colour of the glass should be clear, “so that the wine’s colour – an important element in assessing and enjoying wine to the full – can be appreciated.

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