New wine glasses aim to balance "water and fire"

Mon May 21, 2012 8:53am EDT
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By Cathy Yang

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Could a wine glass shaped roughly like a closed tulip blossom revolutionize the savoring of fine vintages by taming the alcohol in the wine?

That's the hope of French luxury crystal glassmaker Baccarat, which recently began sales of its new line of glasses in Hong Kong, where wine imports have remained strong on the back of strong demand from mainland Chinese buyers even amid global economic uncertainty.

"People tend to confuse good wine with alcohol in wine, which is not what we want," said Bruno Quenioux, technical adviser of the Chateau Baccarat collection of professional wine glasses, which went on sale in France earlier this year.

"What is complicated with wine is to get the balance between the fire and water. Get too much fire in the wine and you lose the message of the water... But if you put too much water in the fire, then the fire is dead."

The glass has a broad base that evokes the tastevin, a saucer-like cup used by winemakers and sommeliers to taste wines, sloping sides and an unusually narrow lip at the end of a vertical "chimney" that the company says prevents the alcohol from overpowering other aromas since it sinks down when the glass is swirled prior to tasting.

"The main subject in the final stretch should no longer be the alcohol anymore, but the aromas and the bouquet the fine wines have to offer," Quenioux told Reuters, adding that the new glass made the aroma more subtle.

"You can see the smokiness, some flowers, definitely the glass leads you to have the mineral side of the wine... When you go back to the regular glass, you have rusticity. You have something not so subtle."

But other glassmakers disagree, saying there is still merit in time-honored variations tailored to the different wine varieties - variations to which they have given subtle modern twists.   Continued...