Given its name, you’d expect the “invisibles collection” – a new line of glassware from crystal makers Ravenscroft, to be light, and probably thin.
You’d be right of course, based on the stemware sample that they sent to me recently.
What you might not expect, though, is the effect that the “Invisibles” glass has on the wine within it – at least, I wasn’t expecting the surprising effect that I experienced.
More on that in a minute (or two). First, I want to cover the aesthetics of the glass itself – both good and bad.
The particular sample I received was one of Ravenscroft’s Invisibles Chianti/Riesling glasses, which they recommend for use when drinking “Beaujolais, Carignan, Chianti, Cotes du Roussillon, Dolcetto, Montepulciano, Primitivo, Red Zinfandel, Sangiovese and Teroldego.” Oddly, Riesling isn’t mentioned in the list, but since it’s in the name of the model line, it’s the wine I used to test it out.
The first thing you notice is that the glass is very light and is quite thin, and it feels very well-balanced when you’re holding it by the stem and it has a standard 1/3-full pour in it. Despite the light weight, it doesn’t feel at all flimsy. Over-pouring does, however, make the glass feel unbalanced in your hand, which I suppose is a reasonable trade-off given the light weight (you shouldn’t be over-pouring anyway, you lush!).
The Invisibles line are hand-made and lead-free, and my sample glass had subtle but noticeable flaws of air bubbles in the base and at the very bottom of the stem, and the base didn’t sit perfectly flat on a smooth level table surface. I’m not a glass snob (and I really dug the overall tulip-shaped design), but if you’re coughing up over $40 for a set of stemware you’d probably be within rights to send back the glass for a replacement if it had the same issues as my sample, even if it’s blown by hand.
Ok, so after all of these aesthetic cavils, what about what the glass does to the wine?…
It’s kind of like… well, like some sort of subtle sensual magic.
We’ve all chatted about stemware here before, and the relative merits of both sides of the debate as to whether or not different shapes and styles of stemware actually impact one’s tasting experience. No need to reproduce all of the great discussion from last year’s post on the matter here (click above to refresh your memory), but I will say that I’m in the camp of people who don’t want to believe that it makes a difference because it’s bad for my wallet, but when faced with every opportunity to test out the premise I come away convinced that it does make a difference (just not as large of one as the stemware manufacturers would have you believe).
Anyway, the wines for our latest “experiment” (Rieslings, in this case) poured into the Ravenscroft were noticeably different in aroma when compared to the same wines poured into my other (similarly-shaped restaurant-grade Stolzle) test glasses:
The Ravenscroft wines were “cleaner.” They exhibited more of the crisp citrus and wet rock characters of the wine’s aromas. It was not like tasting a totally different wine, but it was like having the clarity of the wine dialed up just a notch. The Clarity factor, when it comes to the Ravenscroft, “goes to eleven.”
My conclusion from this totally non-scientific “study” is that Ravenscroft’s Invisibles series is well worth a look if you’re in the market for stemware, just double-check the quality-control if you go for them, and make sure you’re happy with a very thin profile (for the glass, that is).
You can buy the Chianti/Riesling offering in sets of four at Amazon.com.
10 thoughts on “Invisible, Man (Sampling New Stemware from Ravenscroft)”
I'll stick with my Riedel Overture stemware, though I can be a stemware whore at times. I like the bigger bowls, which allow for good aeration. I also like the shorter stems, as they are less top-heavy and are less prone to tipping over and spilling wine (I consider spilled wine a criminal offense.). They are a good price, and perfect for everyday drinking. Plus, if I break one, and it happens quite often, they are relatively cheap to replace. If I'm opening something special, I'll break out the Sommeliers Bordeaux glasses, of which I only own two.
Thanks, Richard – you're right about one thing, spilling wine IS criminal! :)
Dude, have you ever reviewed (informally of course) those instant by the glass decanters you see these days? My cousin swears by them but I've never had the chance to try one myself. I must say I am skeptical about them. I'm concerned they would bruise the wine.
Good review on the stemware BTW. I have also noticed that the method of cleaning and storage of the glasses can play a huge role in the perception of clarity.
Thanks, Peter – In have done a few reviews of the quick decanter-like accessories. For the most part, I have found that they work to some extent but are not a viable sub for time in the decanter. Some are very good in a pinch, though. Cheers!
I prefer the big bowled glasses that do not have a stem. What are those called? I think they are the best for wine drinking in a social setting.
Thanks, Brett – like Reidel's "O" line. I like those, but find myself going back to the stemmed glasses, maybe it's just force of habit…
While somiliers continue to press upon how much a wine glass effects the wine, i believe the thought is way over emphasized. At the end of the night when all the glasses are dirty and I'm down to my last glass, Burgundy tastes just fine in a Bordeaux glass.
amen to that!
Question: Have you reused, washed, resused, washed, etc, those new glasses? Unless there is something chemical happening because of the glass/wine interchange, it seems fairly counter-intuitive to find similarly shaped glasses that have different aromatic presentations, especially if the difference in one of enhanced minerality. I ask this question first because I am somewhat skeptical–that being my nature towards counter-intuitive phenomena.
Question 2: You did this comparison with Riesling. It is a Riesling glass after all, but since the list of wines mentioned by the manufacturer are all reds of some substance, but widely varying tannin and acidity levels, did you also do any red wine trials.
Comment: In the tastings for my rag, we use Overture Reds which we find match all but the very best big format glasses. It is nice to use 32 or 37 oz glasses for really good wines because the large size relative to the small pour allows more wall space for evaporation upon swirling and thus more expressive aromas. But, try setting a whole table with those big boys. A few goes a long way.
Answer is NO to both questions – thoroughly unscientific comparison, as I mentioned above. Totally agree with you on the sample size for tasting – tiny pours do nothing for proper eval., for all the reasons that you mention.
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