Wine critic Jancis Robinson’s groundbreaking glass.
It’s a question every wine lover asks: How many different wine glasses do I really need? One red and one white? Different sizes for Pinot and Cabernet? Merlot? Chardonnay? Good grief—what about aged tawny port?
Well, what if the answer were just one? That’s what acclaimed wine critic Jancis Robinson began to wonder not long ago. Now, together with London tableware designer Richard Brendon, she’s released a new wine glass (yes, glass, singular), that accentuates the virtues of any wine. Handblown and elegant in design, it’s a pleasure to drink from. Admittedly, it isn’t inexpensive ($56, richardbrendon.com), but it’s definitely more affordable than buying a different glass for every grape, right?
F&W: The first question has to be, why just one wine glass?
JR: Because after 43 years of experience tasting wine, I simply don’t see any reason, for a start, why red and white wines should be in different glasses. White wine can be just as supple and nuanced as reds—why think less of it? And as for Champagne, when someone like Olivier Krug wants his wine served in a good glass, not a flute, who can argue with him?
F&W: No different glasses for different grape varieties then?
JR: That idea has never struck a good note with me. Who can tell all those glasses apart, much less fit them on their kitchen shelves? All my life I’ve tried to make wine less intimidating for people; why not make life easier when it comes to glassware, too?
F&W: The glass is handblown and quite delicate-seeming. Is it really dishwasher-safe?
JR: Absolutely. That was almost my number one consideration. For some people the washing up is part of the process of wine tasting, but not for me.
F&W: That’s understandable, given how many wines you taste per year.
JR: Yes, it depends, but it’s probably between 6,000 and 10,000.
F&W: Even so, it does go against the grain of wine-geekery to propose only one glass for all wines. How has the response been?
JR: You know, I got up one morning recently at our house in the Languedoc, where we spend our vacations, and there was this great email from a Master Sommelier saying that he and a group of friends had been trying them with all kinds of wine, and, basically, every kind of wine tasted better out of it except for old Champagne [which did better in Zalto glasses]. That was enormously gratifying. And I think I can live without the old Champagne market.
F&W: Is this the start of a new world of Jancis Robinson wine accoutrements?
JR: Well, I’m certainly not sitting at home with a plan! But I must say, I don’t find any single corkscrew infallible. Even my treasured screw-pull’s lever was broken the other day by a Pinot Noir from China, which was seemingly sealed with teak rather than cork. So perhaps...