There are some of you out there, mostly my relatives, who are of the opinion that the best thing to drink wine out of is a brown paper bag. The Riedal glass company of Germany takes exception to that remark. Before Riedal, people were content to drink wine out of anything that didn’t leak; a water glass, a mug, or your wife’s new pumps if nothing else was available. Riedel introduced the world to the concept that not only does the shape of a glass make a wine taste better, but also different wines demand different shapes. All of which meant, if you just drank Malbec, you’d only need one set of glasses, but if you threw in the occasional Riesling, Burgundy or Bordeaux, half your pay cheque would be going to the Riedel Company.
Reidal marketed this concept successfully. In no time at all gullible yuppies were driving their BMW’s back from town loaded with glasses. Overheard were conversations like, “I was over at Jack’s last night and, can you believe this, he poured Zinfandel into my Bordeaux glass. I nearly gagged. What a Philistine.”
It was also not uncommon to be invited over to friends for dinner, be seated in a room that looked like a glass museum and have the host say, “If we had any money left to buy wine after buying all these glasses, here’s what we would be drinking out of.”
But move over Riedel, here comes the new kid on the block. The Eisch company, also of Germany, has not only stolen the Riedel concept of different shapes for different grapes, but has trumped it by claiming their glasses are BREATHABLE! I know, I know, what’s that hole in the top for? And what do you mean breathable, are they made out of Gortex?
I hear you skeptics in the back row hooting. Breathable, ha! And that remark about me trying to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge is entirely unfair. It’s the Lions Gate Bridge I’m offering shares in, but only because I need the money for wine glasses.
Whenever you’re promoting something revolutionary, especially something that might require the customer to suspend their intelligence, a gimmick is required. And Eisch has one; it’s called a secret manufacturing process, which changes the molecular structure of glass allowing it to breathe. Why it doesn’t leak is still another miracle but so far no explaining. “Closely guarded secrets”, is all the company will say, in a voice highly reminiscent of Maxwell Smart, Agent 86.
The theory is the Eisch glasses greatly accelerate a wine breathing. Two to four minutes in an Eisch glass is like one to two hours in a decanter. How something without nostrils, breathes, is another story. But the back row guys are hooting it up already, so we’ll save that for later. Let’s just say breathing allows a wine to open up and reveal its inner beauty.
Do the glasses work? Oddly enough, they do. Our seasoned, if slightly corked, tasting panel all agreed that the wine in the Eisch glasses smelled and tasted significantly better than the wine in our similar shaped control glass. Not that this stops here. Our diligent tasting panel has thrown out all the stops and is continuing to drink from these glasses to bring more enlightenment, if not an impaired charge, to this issue. (Later that evening. “Hey guys, we’ve tested both white and red, let’s blend the two to see if we can trip up the secret process.”)
Internet response was vastly in favor of the efficacy of the Eisch glasses.
The most convincing testimonial came from the Chemistry department at McGill University, where, a professor did a full-on, extensive, double blind tasting and found the Eisch glasses vastly superior to a similar shaped, but non breathable glass. (Not reported was, by the end of the tasting, he was drinking wine out of his pocket protector.)
But be forewarned, the power of suggestion in these matters is huge. It’s not uncommon at a wine tasting for someone to say, “I’m getting ‘soiled diaper’ off the nose of wine #3. Pretty soon half the room is nodding in agreement. Some even make submissions as to what the child had before the diaper was soiled. (I’m getting hints of carrot puree.) Meanwhile, what the guy actually smelled was his shirt, which hadn’t been washed for the better part of a week.
But if I’ve been fooled, a lot more influential people in the wine world have also been fooled. None other than esteemed American Robert Parker has come out in favour of the Eischs as have other wine heavy weights who would all look bad with egg on the face should the Eisch factory come out and say, “You stupid Americans, there’s no secret process at all.”
When scanning the Internet for information about these glasses I encountered the following description of a wine’s aroma, obviously by a young man who takes himself far too seriously. “On the nose, the wine exhibited pencil lead, wood shavings, sunflower seeds, plums, dark raspberries, cherries and pipe tobacco.”
This is what happens when you drink from your wife’s pumps.
Tired of Argentinean and Australian reds and want something a little different? Try the J.P. Chenet Merlot Cabernet from France. $11.99.
Delbert Horrocks is co-proprietor at the Mahle House restaurant in Cedar.