It’s the little things that make all the difference. Presentation and service at a restaurant, extra fudge on your ice cream sundae, flowers on a date, and the extra bass note in Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby.”Okay, maybe the last one, didn’t do any bit of good but the attention to detail and the special subtleties can make a good experience into a wow experience. BUT, can a wine glass that once claimed to be “breathable” and “able to aerate your wine in 2-4 minutes” be that subtle difference that makes every sip one to savor?
I’ve received a few different sets of wine glasses in the last few months. The first, Ravenscroft Invisibles, were incredibly light and thin. They were also very fragile, had several flaws, and didn’t have that magical chime when cheering and clinking around the table (more of a clunk than a clink). However, I happily used these glasses to replace the Mikasa globe like glasses I used in my first 80+ video reviews.
Eisch Eisch Baby
In July I received two different Eisch Glaskultur glasses from Balzac Communications. When I opened the box, I read through the materials, and immediately put the glasses into action. I didn’t do any additional research on price, or reviews; I just wanted to experience them for a while to see if the marketing claims were substantiated. One glass was the Eisch standard red wine glass, the other was labeled as Eisch Superior Sensis Plus. The claim seemed pretty extreme:
“Wine poured in Sensisplus glasses becomes more harmonious and complex, with better balance and greater elegance. Through a completely natural process, the original character and structure of the wine are preserved, while its aromas and flavors become more expressive and generous. Sensisplus glasses also improve the enjoyment of spirits, fruit juices, sparkling water and other beverages.”
Wow, really “A completely natural process?” Upon further investigation, the materials are very vague as to what “unique properties” make the Sensis Plus glass “better.” Maybe each glass is subjected to hours of alternating rounds of Scorpions, Rammstein and Beethoven to loosen up the pours of the lead free crystal. Regardless of the science behind the claim, Eisch aroused the attention of wine glass Goliath, Riedel to the tune of a lawsuit. While this could have been payback for the German invasion and annexation of Austria in 1938, it was probably more of an attempt for Riedel (an Austrian based company if you didn’t figure that out yet) to learn the secret sauce that makes the glass special. In the end a German judge, with an obvious lack of a discerning palate, declared the glass to be no different than a regular glass, “neither in a food chemistry analysis nor in a gustation test carried out by experienced wine tasters.” Eisch was forced to discontinue their claims of “breathable” and “aerating in 2-4 minutes,” but didn’t have to pay any damages. They keep making their glasses, and the secret remains intact.
My Non Scientific Analysis
I’ve enjoyed wine from a lot of different glasses over the years and I have to give props to Eisch for making one hell of a sexy glass. The bowl is flawless, the color is clear and the weight is nicely balanced. There is even a feel of strength. A casual observer would clearly qualify this as an expensive piece of stemware. After a few months of using the standard and Sensis Plus glasses side by side, I started to notice some subtle differences. The Sensis Plus (designated by a swoosh on the base) is slightly heavier in feel. What really started to grab me was the difference in the aromas coming out of the glass. Time and time again the Sensis Plus glass presented more intense fragrance and even elevated certain aromas that were completely negligible in the standard glass. I started to wonder if my nose and my eyes were playing tricks on me, so I had my wife pour me the same wine in both glasses and I’d blindly sample them. Almost without fail, the Sensis glass was easily identifiable. I even played the game with a few friends and they too could “smell the difference.”
The Eisch Sensis Plus glass makes a noticeable difference in the aroma in most wines. The taste difference was significantly less dramatic, but occasionally evident. Whatever Eisch is doing to these glasses, the results are definitely wow. As an added bonus, the glasses have a beautiful chime when celebrating that special moment with friends and family. The price? $25-30 per stem. Would you pay it? For the average wine drinker $30 buys a set of four glasses at Target. Personally, I’ll definitely be looking for an opportunity to add a few more of these glasses to the cabinet. Christmas is coming…
Other Reviews and Thoughts
10 Jun 2010
Does this glass make my wine look fat? Sometimes skinny can be too skinny? Sometimes skinny is not always a good thing. Exhibit A – Kirstie Alley trying to be skinny. Exhibit B – Kate Moss…any day. How about a skinny wine glass? I really didn’t think my wine glass needed to go on a diet, but according to Ravenscroft Crystal, “the wine glass should be invisible and not compete. Like air, Ravenscroft Crystal Invisibles are practically invisible and weightless.” After reading this aloud, I noticed that the other wine glasses in the room became a little self conscious. Hopefully they don’t develop some sort of disorder.
When I was approached by Ravenscroft to try their Invisibles collection, I was pretty excited. I’ve never been exactly stoked to present my videos with the Mikasa Cheers collection of balloon shaped confetti, but I’m too cheap to splurge for something new. The first glass arrived and indeed it was thin and lightweight. It was easily 1/3 the weight of the regular white wine glass that I used. I drank a glass or two (okay maybe three) and was pleased by the way things felt. I was excited to put the glass to the test. I carefully rinsed out the glass in hot water, using a special wine glass cleaner avoiding chemicals. I was pretty proud of my wafer thin acquisition, so I decided to hand dry it to avoid spots. Crack. That’s the noise a wine glass makes when it breaks…in case you were wondering. So, $10 (if I would have purchased it) lasted three glasses of wine.
I contacted Ravenscroft and they agreed to send more. I received two of their Bordeaux glass (22 oz) and two Riesling Grand Cru glasses (20 oz). These are the glasses designed to promote the positive attributes of the majority of wine that I drink.
Here are my observations. The glass is thin. The glass is light. There is no magical chime when making a toast, only a dull clunk. The glass is fragile. The Ravenscroft literature states that each glass is hand crafted (by artisans none-the-less) and is lead free (more on this later). The hand crafted would explain the inconsistency in quality. Of the four glasses, three have imperfections. One of the white wine glasses has bubbles in the base. The other has a very fine seam that goes diagonally across the bowl. One of the red wine glasses is severely rippled across the bowl. These are not the type of characteristics I would expect to find at $10 per glass Ravenscroft Crystal.
With all of that said, I WILL incorporate the Invisible Collection into my video tastings for two reasons: 1) They feel good in my hand. They’re light and well balanced. 2) They make the wine look better. What I was using was distracting at best and the wrong bowl shape at worst. The traditional shape of the Ravenscroft line will be a much better presentation for the wine being reviewed.
During my research, I stumbled upon a great piece on the dangers of lead in glass containers. The bottom line is that wine doesn’t sit long enough in leaded glass stemware long enough to leach significant amounts of lead into the glass. Studies do show that after storing wine in decanters, wine doubled its content of lead within one hour and tripled the content within four hours. Do not store your port, brandy or other alcohol in leaded crystal containers for long periods. I did find it interesting that a major selling feature of the Ravenscroft Invisible line was “lead-free.” This coming from the inventor of leaded glass in the 1600’s.
The Science of the Wine Glass
In short, wine glass shape, size and quality do matter. Your choice, similar to wine, is your preference. If you doubt my claim, test a bold red wine out of a Dixie cup, then a tumbler, and then an appropriate Bordeaux style glass. You’ll notice a livelier nose and subtle nuances on the palate. The Invisibles line contains eight different glass shapes to accentuate the aroma and flavor profile of various wines. Stocking each of these can be a difficult chore, even for the heartiest oenophile. I recommend a collection that includes a Bordeaux style for reds, a Riesling Grand Cru for whites, and of course a thin flute style for Sparkling wine. Check out this great article for more information about the science of wine glasses. I particularly love her final advice: “Save the washing-up until the morning, or use the dishwasher. Most cleaning instructions for high-end wine glasses require unhampered concentration – in short, not for the inebriated.”
For other insight on Ravenscroft Invisibles:
*Product was provided as an industry sample with the intention to review