How important is the right wine glass to your enjoyment of wine? Do you have a favorite shape of wine glass or favorite brand? I admit that I do have a favorite wine glass, or I thought I did, and the right glass has become an essential part of my wine enjoyment. But, as with wine, I try to keep an open mind about wine glasses. So, when the opportunity presented itself to receive wine glasses as samples for review I was too curious to decline.
Just as my taste in wine has evolved so has my taste in wine glasses. My wine, and sometimes my wine glasses, used to come from the grocery store. Then we began visiting wineries and purchasing wine there. And we purchased wine glasses at wineries too. Mostly they were small glasses with a beaded rim. Over time we gravitated toward the larger version of winery glasses, but these were mostly not crystal wine glasses.
When I discovered our local wine shop my wine world expanded as did my taste in wine glasses. It was at regular weekly tastings that I came to appreciate Riedel wine glasses. The wine shop owners offered regular wine tasters the option of purchasing a Riedel wine glass (an all-purpose red wine glass the specific name of which I cannot recall) at cost. Everyone loves a deal, right?
The benefits to the taster included using a well-balanced wine glass with a bowl large enough to swirl wine, without spilling it on yourself or your neighbor, that enhanced her ability to critically evaluate wine. The benefit to the shop owners was they didn’t have to wash the glasses…part of the deal was each of us washed our own glass. Genius idea.
These relatively sturdy but comparatively light-weight wine glasses were an epiphany to me. They felt so light and well balanced in my hand. I loved them. They were all I wanted to use. Over time we purchased them for our home and still have them today. We use them when we have larger gatherings.
Then I discovered Zalto and my enjoyment of wine and wine glasses increased exponentially. Peter and I discovered Les Marchands Restaurant & Wine Shop in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone shortly after it opened in 2013. Thanks to sommeliers Brian McClintic and Eric Railsback the glassware was as carefully considered as the wine list. I don’t remember what was in that first Zalto Universal glass I was served (I’m guessing it was a crisp white wine, probably European), but I remember that weightless glass. It fit my hand perfectly.
Naturally I researched Zalto. I was dumbfounded at the cost. How could I justify spending nearly $60 per stem? For a while I fooled myself into thinking I would never spend that much for a wine glass. Well, two at a time we did just that. Ultimately we decided to have better wine glasses, but fewer of them. We use them everyday and have been doing so for at least five years. Over that time we’ve broken two and those have been sad days I have to admit.
As a result of my Zalto experience I started paying close attention to wine glasses. The weight and balance of them. How wine smells and tastes in them. I’ve not found a glass that rivals Zalto. Then I held a Gabriel-Glas “One for All” Gold Edition in my hand.
“One for All”
Gabriel-Glas is the genius idea of René Gabriel a respected Swiss-German wine critic. As René wrote WEINBIBEL, his comprehensive German-language wine book, he searched for one wine glass that would successfully present every style of wine. Not finding what he was looking for René founded Gabriel-Glas and created one.
Gabriel-Glas “One for All” wine glass is lead-free crystal and available in two grades —StandArt Edition and the Gold Edition. The two glasses are hard to tell apart at first glance. The top mouth of both measures 66 millimeters and the base of the bowl 95 millimeters. It is designed, per the media kit, to provide “maximum olfactory sensation” and “deliver any wine to the palate in a manner that expresses even the subtlest flavors, no matter the variety.”
Both feel perfectly balanced in the hand. The StandArt Edition feels weightier and has a more substantial bowl and stem than the Gold Edition. Just for fun I weighed both (along with a Zalto Universal and Riedel) on our kitchen scale. The scale verified our impression — the Gabriel-Glas “One for All” Gold Edition wine glass is lighter than the Zalto Universal, which is lighter than the Gabriel-Glas “One for All” StandArt Edition, which is lighter than the Riedel.
The StandArt Edition glass is molded lead-free crystal and the Gold Edition is, unbelievably, mouth-blown. Both have a completely flat foot for stability, and are seamless, making them (relatively) durable — they are, after all, glass. And, just as unbelievably, both are dishwasher safe according to Gabriel-Glas (though I never put wine glasses in the dishwasher.) Washing these lightweight glasses absolutely takes care and attention to detail.
We have been using the “One for All” StandArt Edition and “One for All” Gold Edition glasses for several weeks and enjoyed red, white, skin-contact white, rosé and sparkling wine in them. The tasting experience between the two is very close with the difference being a matter of how light the glass feels in-hand.
The wide base of the bowl allows for excellent aeration by swirling. The narrow mouth concentrates wine aromas making them easy to appreciate. And when we tasted side-by-side between Gabriel-Glas and Zalto the tasting experience was equal between them. Zalto has become our gold standard and the glasses we always use when writing tasting notes. One thing we did notice is that with some red wines the tannins are more appreciable in Gabriel-Glas as compared to Zalto.
The Gabriel-Glas “One for ALL” StandArt Edition wine glass is an excellent choice if you’re unaccustomed to very delicate (lightweight) glassware and the price (SRP $31.25) might be more appealing as well. At $71 the Gabriel-Glas “One for All” Gold Edition is an investment, and not for every wine drinker, but it is my preference between the two.
Either Gabriel-Glas wine glass will make an excellent holiday gift for the winelover in your life — or for yourself. My advice is to buy the best quality you are comfortable paying for. You will enjoy them for a long time.
What will we do if we break another Zalto? After we dry our tears I have to say we would seriously consider replacing it with the Gabriel-Glas “One for All” Gold Edition. They are wonderful glasses to use and so pretty to look at.
Thank you to Gabriel-Glas and Charles Communications Associates for the opportunity to try these wine glasses. They are certainly one of the highlights of our wine year!