We all know this: The glass matters! The shape of the glass effects our perception of wine. That’s why it’s very important to choose the correct shape of glass, depending on the style of the wine that we are tasting.
However, when it comes to drinking wine, not tasting it, the things might get even more complicated, because apart from the shape, it’s also necessary to find a suitable type depending on the occasion: Which glass I should use on the beach? If I am making a barbecue on my backyard? When I am having a glass of Albariño to accompany my salad on a Wednesday dinner? In a cold winter night when I am drinking a glass of Cabernet Franc with a big bowl of bean soup? And the most importantly… how many types of glass I should have in my own kitchen to fit every occasion?
All these difficult questions might lead us to believe that we cannot drink wine from crystal wine glasses everywhere. On the other hand, nowadays, there are many different innovative wine packages, which are created to make our life easier and to give options for every occasion, which can make your wine drinking experience a great one. Therefore, the options to choose become even more wider to decide how you will be enjoying your wine.
Here, I’d like to share 2 different occasions, picnics and local restaurants, with different options of glassware that I’ve experienced recently.
Recently, I went hiking in Cape Split – it’s one of the most breathtaking place in Nova Scotia, where the sharp cliffs meet the energetic tides of Nova Scotia. To arrive to the final point, it was necessary to finish the trail of 6 kilometers, full of native trees and flowers, and a lot of mud since we’re having a quite wet summer. Once we’ve arrived to the final point, I forgot everything happened before and amazed by the natural beauty. So, of course after all the walking I was hungry and thirsty: I’ve took out my sandwich with Montreal smoked meat and Swiss cheese, my wine glass wrapped with some kitchen towel, and a half bottle of rose wine from my backpack. It was a very nice picnic, everything was even more delicious with the view.
Following, I have published an Instagram post on my account about this picnic with a photo of myself with my sandwich and glass of wine. Not very long after, I’ve received a comment on that:
“How cool is to have a crystal glass over there?”
To be honest, I haven’t expected this question. For me, it became quite normal to carry my wine glass around, just wrapping it well is enough to avoid any breaking. This special glass that I carry around is a small ISO tasting glass, this one was a gift after attending the “12 Tides” event of Wines of Nova Scotia. As well as using on picnics, I use it on Mondays when I want to pour myself some left-over wine from the weekend – perfect size for this special occasion. However, this comment made me start to think: Was that a suitable glass type for a picnic? Well, maybe not, maybe sometimes it could be better to use less fancy glassware, to enjoy more the occasion itself.
Coming from there, I started to think about the local restaurants I have been.
I remembered myself ordering some “vino da tavola” (table wine) in trattorias in Italy. The trattorias are the restaurants where you can eat the best examples of local cuisine, they would generally have a small fixed menu but also some daily specialties for lunch or dinner time. Your best order in a trattoria would be the daily specialty (pasta!) paired with vino da tavola, which would probably served with with stemless glasses. Those stemless glasses look almost like small water glasses. Instead of a table cloth, they would have a table cover from a thick paper that the waitress changes every time there’s a new client on the table. You would receive very big portions, as it’s your mom who is serving the meal and make sure that you are completely full. This naturally gives the sensation of “being home” even if you are just passing by. In that scenery, I wouldn’t want to change those glasses with any stemware because it wouldn’t give the same “sensation”.
The same happened to me in Greece this summer.
Imagine you are in a Greek city in the middle of summer, Mediterranean sun is chasing you around when you walk around all day long to see the ancient sites. You end up in a big square, where is full of restaurants with their wood table and chairs outside, where the late afternoon sun is shaded with the long palm trees. Some local Greek people already started to order, random Greek sentences that you don’t understand a word sound like music…
This was exactly the atmosphere when I went to the restaurant “Full Tou Meze” (Φούλ του μεζέ) in Thessaloniki. In that local atmosphere, ordering a liter of white wine from Limnos was a decision came naturally. This wine is kept in barrel in-house, and served to tables in a wine jug with stemless glasses. If not the best, it was one of the best table wines that I’ve tasted in my life. Although it doesn’t specify the variety, I assume that in the blend it had some Muscat of Alexandria (locally known as Moschato Alexandrias) which grows intensively in this region, and the wine was very aromatic with muscat-like aromas. It also had some barrel notes and the touch of oxidation which gave it complexity, with the acidity which stood up in the mouth. Would this wine could smell and taste better if served in a proper shaped wine glass? Maybe. So, would I want to have a different glass instead? Definitely not. This was part of the game, and it paired very well with the atmosphere of this local restaurant.
Just a small side note to finish the experience in this restaurant, the wine was paired very well with the local Greek appetizers (meze) and dishes that we have ordered. We have order some cold mezes to begin with: some olives, a plate of homemade marinated anchovy and a plate of fava, which is a spread made from fava beans and served with chopped onions and capers. We’ve continued with the hot mezes: fried zucchini flowers filled with feta cheese, grilled Talagani cheese made with 100 % sheep milk from Messina. Finally we had some seafood dishes; squid grilled on skewers and grilled octopus served on fava. They were all seasoned perfectly with herbs and, of course, olive oil.
I was able to catch a similar local atmosphere in restaurant “To Elleniko” (το Ελληνικό), where again I’ve order a table wine, this time a red wine from Nemea, again no grape variety was stated but I assume that in the blend it would mostly have Agiorgitiko, the native red grape variety of the region. As in the first place, this was also served on the paper table cover, with wine jug and same stemless glasses. From cold mezes we had some dolmadakia (stuffed grapevine leaves with rice and herbs), melitzanosalata (eggplant dip with walnuts) and of course some fava. As main dish we had grilled meatballs and kebap, which is grilled minced meat in skewers with yogurt sauce. Great harmony with the wine and everything on the table.
Those easy to drink daily wines made me realize the importance of matching the occasion with the glassware. There will be always an “ideal” way to serve the wine, but the definition of “ideal” will be shaped by the scene. As long as the atmosphere, style of the wine and a good mood coincides at one point; that will be the “ideal” one.
All images © 2019 by Neslihan IVIT. All rights reserved.