Raising a glass to five years of a wine-glass collaboration with tablewear designer Richard Brendon.
I’m delighted to say that today marks exactly five years since we launched my versatile, very beautiful, dishwasher-friendly wine glass and accompanying decanters.
It’s a collaboration with the talented young designer Richard Brendon, who had had great success with bone china and then whisky and cocktail glasses and wanted to move into wine glassware. When he approached me for expert advice I realised that I had more than 40 years’ experience of tasting wine and had some pretty strong ideals about the perfect wine glass.
I was convinced that there was no need for a great range of different glasses for different wines. (I’ve never understood, for instance, why white wine is served in smaller glasses than red when it can be just as subtle.) All the champagne producers I admire want their wines to be shown in proper wine glasses, not skinny flutes in which it can be difficult to appreciate the aroma. Ditto those who make fine sherry and port. And who has the space to store suites of different glasses anyway? Everything in this age of decluttering and simplicity points to one glass for all sorts of wine, no matter the style or colour.
It had to be gossamer-thin glass, putting the drinker in as much contact with the wine as possible, which meant that it had to be handmade rather than machine-made. The stem had to be tall enough to allow a hand to comfortably swirl the glass without affecting the wine’s temperature, yet the glass should not be so tall as to be difficult to store. I wanted a classic shape that would not look out of place in any setting.
The curvature of the bowl had to be such that that aroma, however full or empty the glass, was maximised and encouraged up to the super-fine rim of the glass. And of course the glass had to narrow towards the rim to allow the swirling necessary to encourage the aroma to collect and linger above the surface of the wine without risking any spillage, however vigorously the wine is swirled. The opening at the top also had to be big enough to allow any nose to fully embrace the aromas of the wine, and, to ensure practicality, it had to fit in the dishwasher. (Most breakages occur when glasses are hand-washed or hand-dried, alas.)
There is just one glass shape in the collection – the stemmed wine glass is complemented by a stemless version to be used for either wine or water – but Richard and I have designed two decanters to suit the two sorts of wine worth decanting. The young-wine decanter above – wide and open at the top with a neck that positively invites you to swirl the wine – is designed for youthful wines, white as well as red, that will benefit from extra aeration.
The mature-wine decanter above is designed for wines with a sediment that you would like to separate from the wine by standing up the bottle for an hour or so and then carefully pouring the liquid, against a strong light source, off the sediment into the decanter. It’s much narrower than the young-wine decanter so that the wine’s precious, complex aromas are preserved since the surface area of the wine offers limited exposure to oxygen. It also has a handsome stopper. Richard finessed the designs of these two decanters to match the curvature of the wine glass so they all look really good together.
Since its launch on this day in 2018, the collection can now be found in some of the finest restaurants, bars and wineries all over the world, and is the choice of many a fastidious sommelier and winemaker. Full details on the collection, including how to order direct from the Richard Brendon studio, can be found here.
International distributors are listed below. Our biggest lacuna is France, where our glass is the choice of top winemakers such as Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey but finding a national importer/distributor has proved extremely challenging. Any suggestions for France or anywhere else would be welcome! For the moment our man in Burgundy, Matthew Hayes (firstname.lastname@example.org) of Dijon, can supply them.
UK hospitality and Ireland – Liberty Wines
US – Skurnik
Japan – Mottox
China – Ruby Red
Taiwan – Necoichi
Australia – Cellarhand
New Zealand – Atelier Nash
Norway – Symposium Wines
BeNeLux – Vinetiq
Croatia and the Balkans – Eno Kultura
Spain – CVNE Distribución
Portugal – Rocim
Mexico – Vinos Enteros