Given how many wine lovers there are in the world, the choice of really pro wine-ware is surprisingly small. For quite a long time, the only option for serious oenophiles was Riedel – I’m sure a lot of people’s cupboards house at least a couple of designs from this Austrian brand, which became famous for designing a whole host of different shapes to suit various styles of wine.
Then, a few years ago, Zalto came on the scene. Ultra-fine, slightly spring-y and, to the uninitiated, disconcertingly light, these fragile-feeling glasses set out to create a more “intimate” relationship between wine and drinker. Today, Zalto’s glasses remain the standard for most of the industry, almost to the point of cliché (whenever someone is meant to look clever on Netflix, they always drink their Cab out of a capacious Zalto).
But some trendy wine bars like to take a stand by using the more alterno Mark Thomas range, which has all the fineness of Zalto, but with the signature “double bend”, a striking design feature that gives its wine glasses an almost octagonal silhouette, and which, the brand claims, enhances the aeration of the wine.
Not many of us, though, have the space or the inclination to store multiple sets of wine glasses for different types of wine (wine glasses that are often too tall for the average shelf). And it was this frustration that prompted FT wine columnist Jancis Robinson and product designer Richard Brendon to create the 1 Collection, a new capsule collection of wine-ware featuring a water glass, two decanters and a wine glass designed to suit red, white and sparkling.
At first glance the wine glass looks a lot like the Zalto Universal, Zalto’s one-size-fits-all design. On closer inspection, though, it is more curvaceous, with a slightly shorter (more practical) stem, a slightly smaller mouth, and in crystal that’s dishwasher-friendly (like the Zalto Universal, it costs £35).
I normally use the Universal at home, so I tested the two against each other (blind, to ensure no FT bias). When it came to a bordeaux blend, there wasn’t much to choose between them. A meursault had a touch more vibrancy and concentration in the 1 Collection. But where Robinson’s design really excelled was with sparkling wine – a 2007 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne absolutely luxuriated in the glass, without ever feeling swamped. Of all the wine glasses in my cupboard, the 1 Collection also had the prettiest “ding” – which possibly matters to me more than it should.
In the end, you can conduct as many blind-tastings as you like, but the real test will be which glass you reach for at six o’clock. And I have to say, over the past few weeks, it’s been the 1 Collection all the way. So well done, Jancis and Richard – your new glass really is smashing.