One Glass For All Wines–the new, versatile wineglass by Jancis Robinson and Richard Brendon

The All-Wines Wineglass

by Jancis Robinson and Richard Brendonthe wineglass designed to complement all wines!


Finally—fi-na-lly—there is a wineglass that can be used—correctly and successfully—for drinking all styles of wine, from red, white, and rosé table wines, to Champagne and prosecco, to Sherry, Port, and Madeira, to Montescudaio vin santo. And the making of that one, über-versatile wineglass required the collaboration of two of the most highly regarded personages in the wine trade: Jancis [No, not Janice] Robinson, the world’s foremost wine critic (so much so that she is a cellar advisor to Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and sits on the Royal Household Wine Committee); and Richard Brendon, prominent British designer of bone china collections and a rising star in the rarefied realm of wineglass design.


But laughing all the way to the bank—and banquet—are young, fashionable, wine-drinking men the world over who enthusiastically seek out easy, effortless, elegance, and who have awaited, for untold generations, a savior-glass so that they no longer need feel socially condemned because they do not have cupboards stocked with 8s of 10 different styles of wineglasses; no longer have to hope and pray to inherit stemware; are elated to know that less glasses means less dishes; and now have a one-for-all, all-in-one wineglass that simplifies the already-complicated world of wine. What less could a boy ask for?


When Brendon—confidently, but deferentially—approached Robinson with the suggestion of a collaboration on a line of wineglasses, he had not considered that Robinson, a self-proclaimed, no-waste pragmatist from Northern England, would immediately edit his idea down to a one-glass collection. But when one has been around the notoriously esoteric, trendy, hyped-up wine industry for decades—since the 1970s in the case of Robinson—one manages to learn a thing or two. And one thing Robinson—Oxford University-educated in mathematics—seems to have learned is that wines, like fractions, have a common denominator, thus making them more fundamentally alike than dissimilar. So why all the fuss about specific glasses for specific wines—especially in the 21st century where less is more, simpler is better, and everyone is trying to de-stress and un-clutter?


But the need for a versatile wineglass is nothing new. After all, when attending a wine festival, for example, one is given a pouch-bib with one glass that must serve for sampling all wines. So why did it take this long for someone in the industry to get the brilliant idea to do the seemingly obvious: Make and market an all-wines wineglass to the general public?


To the untrained eye, to behold the Robinson-Brendon glass is to see a wineglass that looks—from a distance at least—like any other modern, Riedel-inspired, long-stemmed wine glass. But to hold the glass, and then to drink from it (after inhaling the aromas contained therein, of course), makes for a singular epicurean experience.


In the height of the designer jeans craze, 15-year-old brunette beauty Brooke Shields, in one of the era’s most provocative television ads, coyishly queried and answered, “You wanna know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing….” A similar sensation, so it seems, must have inspired Robinson to insist upon a wineglass so thin at its rim that it imparts a sensation almost like drinking wine out of thin air….


The glass,—the central figure and pièce de résistance of the Jancis Robinson Collection, a 5-piece wine suite comprised of a long-stemmed, all-wines wineglass; a stemless water glass, its tulip shaped bowl directly informed by its wine counterpart; a wine-bottle-inspired decanter with glass stopper for old, mature wines; a generously proportioned young wine decanter that encourages wines to aerate and is large enough to accommodate the contents of a magnum bottle; and a water carafe, which is the old-wine decanter sans stopper—like all the pieces in the ensemble, is mouth-blown and handcrafted of lead-free crystal by some of Europe’s finest glassblowers, following centuries-old traditions. (The glass’ stem, for example, is not a separate unit that is attached to the bowl. Instead, it is one contiguous element of the sublime whole). But even they had to initially struggle to achieve Robinson and Brendon’s directive to handcraft the world’s thinnest, most refined wineglass. Though sleek, the wineglass is durable, sized to fit into standard dishwashers, and, because of its lead-free composition, resistant to those unsightly “clouds” that tend to descend upon glasses over time. And priced at around $60 per glass and available in sets of two and six, this exquisite wineglass is well within the reach of many a modern gentleman.


The Jancis Robinson Collection by Richard Brendon was officially launched at Harrods of London on July 1, 2018. It is available online at . Bartholomew Broadbent, wine expert and son of the world-famous Christie’s wine auctioneer Michael Broadbent, already swears by Robinson’s new all-wines wine glass, declaring it the finest in the world. And when Broadbent speaks, the world of wine bends its ear.


The History of the Glasses from which We Drink


Humans have drunk from vessels from time immemorial—whether from naturally formed objects adapted for drinking, such as shells and gourds, or from handcrafted forms made of wood or metal. But today, when one thinks of a drinking-vessel, one thinks of an object made of glass—so much so that the object has acquired the name of the material from which it is made. And today, no formal dinner table would be regarded as properly appointed without stemware.

The earliest evidence of man-made glass occurs in the form of beads made in Egypt and Mesopotamia during the last quarter of the third millennium B.C.E. And the archaeological record indicates that Egyptian artisans during the reign of King Thutmose III (1479 – 1425 B.C.E.), arguably Egypt’s greatest warrior-pharaoh, developed the technique of making drinking-vessels of glass using the core-formed method. By the first century B.C.E., the Egyptians had developed the technique of blowing glass; and when the Romans conquered Egypt in 27 B.C.E., glass, by then popular in Egypt, was introduced to Rome, thereafter spreading throughout Europe—to those who could afford it since glass was very expensive and could be acquired by only those of the elite classes. It was not until one thousand years later that there would be reference to glass-making in Venice, which became famous for the craft—so much so that in 1291 all Venetian glass production was moved to the Venetian island of Murano for fear that the watery city would burn on account of the high concentration of glass foundries in the city.

Perhaps the first written suggestion of the drinking-glass as it is best known today—in its transparent form—occurs around 1570 when there is reference to Venetian “ice” glass. [But See Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, 1495-98; and Domenico Ghirlandaio’s Last Supper, 1480. In both paintings, transparent glass is prominently depicted, indicating that transparent glass was in use almost a century earlier in Renaissance Italy. See also examples of 3rd– and 4th-century C.E., Roman transparent cut-glass objects at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Also, Pliny the Elder, writing in the 60s C.E., discusses the contemporary taste for clear glass and glass as similar to rock crystal as possible]. Caravaggio’s Bacchus, circa 1595, demonstrates the artist’s mastery, in oil on canvas, at rendering what is believed to be an example of that “ice” glass. And by1673, the technique of adding lead oxide to glass production resulted in a heavy, clear glass that was ideal for cutting.

The pressed-glass machine was invented in 1825 in the United States, ushering in the era of mass-produced, relatively inexpensive glass. (There were, however, companies specializing in high-quality crystal glasses as usable, functional, works of decorative art:  Baccarat, founded in 1764, was by the 1850s producing elegant drinking-glasses for the world’s elite; and Lalique, founded in 1888, began producing luxurious stemware in 1921). But it was during the Victorian era, in the 1890s, that the drinking-glass as it is known today became popularized. In the late 1800s, when opulence was the order of the day, heavily carved crystal stemware adorned the dinner tables of the world’s great hostesses. But while such glasses may be beautiful to behold, they are not perfectly suited for the enjoyment of their contents. And it would not be until the 1960s that Claus Riedel would design a collection of wine-specific glasses—clear, smooth, über-lightweight glasses designed especially to enhance the appreciation for the taste and bouquet of wine. The collection was officially launched in 1973; and Riedel and Riedel-inspired glasses have been the standard ever since, with companies such as IKEA, Pottery Barn, and Williams-Sonoma offering similarly designed, machine-made stemware at affordable prices.