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When buying stemware becomes a daunting task
Recently, when the last of my wine glasses succumbed to an inadvertent knock, we (a family of two) knew it was time for a trip to IKEA. We are a one-stop-shop family and as recent migrants to Sydney, that’s the only one-stop shop we knew. Until a Victoria’s Basement ad made its way to our letterbox.
This is not to say we are particularly fussy about stemware and such things. But, after being forced to drink unpalatable Nashik wines back at home (often in plastic cups), when you find very drinkable options at only double the price of packaged water, you offer them your full attention, respect, and pretension, if you please.
In short, you might as well make a fuss. And so we did.
I, a seafood lover, decided that we needed white wine glasses to savour my chardonnay, alternatingly with a bite of rose-flesh salmon or a crispy calamari ring. (Do not go with my food and wine pairings, I am still stuck at the right kind of glasses!) He, being a steak freak and thus, a red wine guzzler, decided that even the mere sight of white wine glasses upped the acidity levels in his stomach.
We reached a consensus and decided that we wanted to be all prim and precious about the whole experience of drinking cheap wine. So separate glasses for whites and reds it would be.
We both knew it was going to be a very long day.
A wine glass is wickedly divided into a bowl, a stem and a foot. If he liked the stem of a particular brand, I found the bowl not quite to my taste; when I liked the foot, he hated the stem. We slowly moved towards the stemless glasses which are in vogue right now, only to nod disapprovingly and rush back to the more traditional offerings.
As we began the hunt for the red wine glasses, we were faced by several grievous and grave questions.
“Is it going to be crystal or glass?” he asked.
“Crystal looks more sparkly, no?”
“It has lead in it, BTW,” he said, as he proceeded to list the effects of lead poisoning from a health website, stopped short at ‘altered testicular functioning’, and put the crystal glass down and moved on to the next brand.
On the shelf to the right sat a nice, mid-sized bowl with a dainty stem that drew our flattery. The very next instant, we discovered a longish variety of the same ware. “A burgundy glass and a Bordeaux glass!” declared my beau in a quick display of one-upmanship. We had not even gone past one variety and we already were hit by sub-divisions!
“Burgundy for the more aromatic wines, like pinot noir, and Bordeaux glasses (the longish ones) for full-bodied ones like the shiraz or cabernet sauvignon,” he rattled on.
“What about a merlot!” I asked with a whiff of sarcasm.
He pretended to ignore me and read out loud, “The contents of a burgundy glass should hit the tip of your tongue while that of a Bordeaux glass should be directed towards the back of your mouth.”
We were once again faced with the crystal versus glass dilemma when another article on the web informed us that glass stemware will have a lip at the rim for durability which is not a desirable feature for wine enjoyment. It was one of those moments when you start to regret the World Wide Web and its entrapment.
After much ado and finicky comparisons, we settled for a set of burgundy and another of Bordeaux glasses for the reds, dreading what was in store next.
White wine glasses were my department, and thankfully they are a straightforward lot. All you need is a nice and upright u-shaped bowl on a stem to maintain cooler temperatures. Easy! Or so I thought…
I was pelted with several manifestations and imaginings of the letter “u” which slowly paved the way for an hour-long bout of indecision.
My other half had conveniently disappeared amidst the racks of crystal only to be found puffing away at a cigarette in the carpark. On being caught, he flashed a sheepish grin and proceeded to help me out with glasses for my Riesling.
With not many to our liking, we agreed these would be our temporary options for the time being.
Champagne flutes were next in line, and given that the bubblies give both of us an acid attack, we went past them quickly. We thrust six traditional flutes into the cart and made a dash for the counter when my visibly bored better half asked, “What shall we serve a rosé in?”
A salesman overheard and said they had run out of rosé stemware. He was heaven-sent, my partner and I both agreed.
As we walked past the aisles towards the payment counter, on a board beside the wine glass racks was written: Age Like Fine Wine.
I think I may have aged a little after that wine glass buying experience. And not quite like fine wine.
Be that as it may, chin-chin!