Wine Lover’s Gift Guide: 6 Gorgeous Glasses

 

6 gorgeous glasses (notes on the white wines below!)

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me

That’s right, all wine lovers need gorgeous glasses, at least six.

And not just because they are gorgeous or to set a beautiful table. 

No! By gorgeous I mean beautiful to look at AND beautiful to taste out of.

Many people don’t think it makes much of a difference what glass you use but Sue and I are here to tell you IT DOES.

Different shapes for different wines: Chardonnay (La Finquita), Semillon (L’Ecole 41), Pinot Noir (Brooks), Nebbiolo (Terragena), Cabernet Sauvignon (L’Ecole 41), Mourvedre (La Finquita). Keep reading for more about the whites!

Regular readers here know that we often talk and post on social media about how different a wine might taste depending on the glass we use. (Become a regular reader! Subscribe!)

I didn’t think it made that big of a difference but many years ago when I saw a boxed set of beautiful blown glass Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and SauvBlanc/Riesling glasses on clearance at half price at World Market, I went for them.

Bonus: they came in a carrying case and I’ll tell you those glasses traveled some miles! We really loved the tulip shaped Pinot Grigio glasses with rose and so many wines. Hard to believe, but I still have the two Sauvignon Blanc glasses even though we likely use them the most — they are a favorite for sparkling wine as well as any aromatic white wine.

In January 2010, a friend who worked at BevMo pointed out the January clearance sale on Reidel sets. At half price, they weren’t cheap. But I bought three sets of the stemless tasting glasses that include Riesling/Sauv Blanc, oaked Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah/Grenache etc, and Cab/Merlot. I also picked up a pair of Bordeaux glasses and a pair of Rhone glasses. Basically, I spent every last cent I felt I could afford. When I returned a few days later to get what was left, they were ALL GONE. Ten years later, I have one complete set of the stemless, and I use a second box to store two baked Chardonnay, two Pinot Noir, and an oddball stemless glass. (Okay, it says CELEBRATE on it…)

What breaks the most? The bowl from the stem. So buy stemless. Festive Wine from Flora Springs; read about it here.

A few years ago, I lucked out and found stemmed Riedel glasses on clearance for 30% off at Target. I picked up two boxes of Pinot Noir, a box of Prosecco, and a pair of Bordeaux. I had them put a strap across the top for carrying. I gave a box of PN glasses to Sue; she still has all four but I’m down to two, and there’s a solo Prosecco glass. 

I used to shop at Macy’s when they’d have their big clearance home sales with a. coupon and if you sued your Macy’s card and when they had glasses on sale I’d get them. That’s how I ended up with four Beaujolais glasses — which I still have and are stored in the box because seriously how often do you drink Gamay? For us, it’s once or twice a year but every time I swear we will do it more often, and seriously the glasses are gorgeous and make a huge difference in how the wine tastes. I also picked up two boxes of Montrachet glasses with one broken in each. With a couple for another 40% off of their already marked down 50% off price I got them for a song. 

These Carmenere from TerraNoble retail for around $25 and they tasted so good from these gorgeous Cabernet glasses even thought the stemless Reidels suggested that this varietal should go in a “Syrah” glass. Wines provided as samples for a ZOOM webinar and tasting.

Recently I purchased on 50% clearance and with an additional 10% off two cabernet glasses with a carafe when Pier 1 went out of business; pictured above.. These glasses are really wonderful with Cabernet Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot, Bordeaux blends, and even white wines. And they are gorgeous.

While it’s great to have a wide range of glasses to call on, if you just want one basic white or red glass, think about what you drink the most and get those. For example I asked Santa for Syrah glasses last year and he delivered! 

A good rule of thumb: the glass is the same price as the bottle. So if you’re drinking Two Buck Chuck, go ahead and use that mason jar.  But if you’re regularly drinking wine that’s around $15, spend $15 per glass. And if you’re drinking a wine that costs $50-$150 (or more!) a bottle, seriously consider spending $35-75 per glass — or less if you can find them on sale! 

So what’s the moral to this story?

  • Buy good glasses.
  • Buy glasses that go with specific wines.
  • Use the good glasses especially when you drink the good wine.
  • Glasses break.
  • Deal with it.
  • Buy more glasses.

And give gorgeous glasses as gifts!

I’m not making any money off these Wine Lover’s Gift Guide posts BUT the wines pictured were all received as samples and either have been or will be featured on this blog. 

And now to the wines!

Terragena’s riesling in a riesling glass

2018 Terragena Riesling Wiley Vineyard Anderson Valley
ABV 13.1% 
SRP $
Field blend: 92% Riesling, 8% Muscat 

Earlier this week, the LA Wine Writers ZOOMed with winemaker Chris Buchanan about his Terragena winery located in Mendocino County. We all sampled this wine as well as his Nebbiolo which I used my Coravin on so we can do a pairing and write about it and the winery more later. 

Super small, super experimental production. 

Color: Pale lemon, buttercup

Nose: Very subtle nose when it is cold and closed in. As it opens up, light petrol, bee pollen, honey, honey crisp apple, so much more expressive as it warms. 

Palate: Tart, dry, crisp, great minerality, European in style, lemon tanginess, you can feel the ocean influence in the salinity. Clean light and bright. We enjoyed this wine so much more as it warmed a bit. Too chilled and it looses all of its character and nuance. 

Pairing: Great with white fish in butter capers and lemon. Would be nice with bratwurst. We have paired riesling in the past with uni pasta. This would be great with that dish. We did break down and shuck an oyster to try with the wine, and were not disappointed in the least. Both together are a luscious combination. I loved it with the black cod but not so much with the brown rice. 

In a stemless riesling glass, L’Ecole 41 semillon paired with mussels

2019 L’Ecole No 41 Semillon, Columbia Valley
ABV 13.5% 
SRP $
88% Semillion, 12% Sauvignon Blanc

We’ve written about the merlot of Washington’s L’Ecole no 41 numerous times; in fact that was the Merlot that put Washington Merlot on the map for me way back in 2009!

Read about what we said in October 2020 about the recent vintage here.

Read what we said about L’Ecole in 2019 when it was named a Top 100 winery  here.

Color: Pale straw, light lemon chiffon, platinum rim,

Nose: Grapefruit and gardenias, jasmine, lovely light florals, white stone fruit, 

Palate: Nice slick feel across the palate, pomelo, kiwi, nice light white florals on the finish. The finish is quite long and lingering. Nicely tamed acidity, it is there but not on the forefront. Earthy groundedness.

Pairing: We wanted white fish with beurre blanc, also scallops, the mouthfeel of both would go so well. Muscles with linguine would be great. Oysters would also be lovely. We had to try this wine with the baked brie that Sue had prepared for another post we were doing on the same evening. Before you could even get the bite of brie in your mouth the nose of both the wine and the baked brie wanted us to go straight there. The buttery richness of the brie and the smooth silkiness of the wine went so well together. It also loved the rich baking spices and rosemary that Sue sprinkled over the top. Surprisingly, oysters with the wine was not so great. We wanted to go straight back to the baked brie. 

La Finquita Winery and Vineyard “Puppy Kisses” Ramona AVA 
ABV 11.2%
SRP $
100% Chardonnay

This is another super small winery that’s part of the Craft Wine movement; I tasted this wine and their Mourvèdre as part of th ZOOM chat with the winemaker and the LA Wine Writers. All of their wines come from that AVA located in San Diego county in Southern California where it gets super hot during the day but the coastal influence cools the vines at night. 

 Color: Daffodil, pale straw rim

Nose: Banana, tropical fruit, caramel apple, pineapple upside down cake

Palate: Tart green apple, lemon curd, pineapple. A bit sweet, very fruity.

Pairing: This bold fruited wine should stand up to shrimp scampi nicely. We also thought it would be nice with roast or fried chicken. It would also make a nice holiday meal wine. Sue thought it would work well with a baked brie. Because we often do more than one wine blog at a time, she was making a baked brie for another post, however we just needed to try it with this wine, and were not disappointed in the least. She put a bit of baking spices in it. The warm gooey, savory brie, with fruit and nuts was so fantastic with this wine.  I thought of apple pie. I think it would also be nice with an Indian meal able to tackle the rich bold spices and heat. 

I tried this wine in both in a riesling glass and a chardonnay glass proving that a glass does make a difference. The riesling glass did nothing for the wine, and when food was added to the equation, a pair that worked beautifully before did nothing together. Shrimp and grits paired with the wine in a chardonnay worked beautifully, yet when the wine was poured into a reisling glass it did not work at all and made everything taste fishy.

Glasses do make a difference.  Use the right one.

 

WINE GLASS “Breaking” News! Press Release in MY IN Box! EDITED FOR BREVITY:

St. Helena, California, December 15, 2020 – For the first time ever, a line of glassware designed around the flavor of wine has been released to trade and consumers in the United States. The set of three glasses corresponds to three key flavor/styles found in wine: Crisp & Fresh™, Creamy & Silky™ and Bold & Powerful™, intuitively putting the power of glass selection in the hands of  wine consumers and  trade professionals.  
 
Liberating and simple in premise, the Flavor First™ line of glassware was meticulously designed over three years by wine expert and lauded author Karen MacNeil in collaboration with Senior Vice President of Design and Creative Director, Paul Gebhardt of The Oneida® Group,  producer since 1880 of fine table and kitchenware to homes and restaurants worldwide.
 
Their idea was simple—design wine glasses around wine flavor, not around wine regions or wine varietals. Taking into consideration the architecture of the glass, the nature of the human palate, and the desire of consumers and food service professionals to simplify this complex subject, MacNeil and Gebhardt had an “aha” moment together at a wine training Karen  conducted for The Oneida® Group. Why, they asked,  wasn’t there a stem that took the overthinking out of  glassware? Why not focus on the fundamental pleasure and flavor of wine itself?    

The core stems include (all sold at retail in sets of four and six): 

Crisp & Fresh™ for champagne, prosecco, sparkling wine, sauvignon blanc, riesling, and pinot grigio plus light rosés and all wines with a fresh, bright quality 
 
Creamy & Silky™ for  chardonnay, chenin blanc, pinot gris plus richer rosé wines and pinot noir, chianti, shiraz and all wines with a round, silky texture
 
Bold & Powerful™ for very full bodied, oaky chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, Bordeaux, zinfandel, malbec, Barolo, syrah and all wines that feature a bold texture and firm structural backbone.
 
Petite Stem:  Designed for more casual gatherings, a next generation version of the stemless glass but, importantly, with a foot to allow for swirling and easier handling.  It’s also great for beer, iced tea, and select cocktails such as a classic Gin & Tonic.
 
Available for sale in sets of four and six or as a variety set of six with two stems of each, the glasses are available at a number of retailers such as Amazon, wine.com, Macy’s, Dillard’s, TheBay.com (Canada)  and  are also available at Oneida.com and KarenMacNeil.com.   Priced at $74.99 per set of six, the per stem price averages $12.50, extremely affordable when compared to other similar quality wine glasses on the market today.
 
About Karen MacNeil
Noted writer, author, and educator Karen MacNeil is the only American to have won every major wine award given in the English language. These include the James Beard award for Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year, the Louis Roederer award for Best Consumer Wine Writing, and the International Wine and Spirits award as the Global Wine Communicator of the Year.  In a full-page profile on her, TIME Magazine called Karen “America’s Missionary of the Vine.” In 2018, Karen was named one of the “100 Most Influential People in Wine.”  More information about Karen can be found at  www.karenmacneil.com.

 

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