Recently, on a lovely weekend spent with friends in Perth, Ontario, we wandered into Riverguild Fine Crafts, an artists’ cooperative. Along with many local works of art was a selection of pottery made by Jackie Seaton. We were drawn to his unglazed wine glasses, which claim to soften rough wines. The store keeper told us they sell about a dozen of them a day during the summer.
The sceptic in me was awakened, but then I read the info card beside them, with an explanation of the science behind this fad from Konrad Ejbich. I am a big fan of Konrad Ejbich, and am always excited to catch his monthly wine call-in on CBC Radio’s Ontario Today. I have faith in Konrad, he has rarely steered me wrong. The explanation goes something like this: clay is often added to wine while being made, in order to clarify it and remove certain proteins. The logic of a clay wine glass is that since it is unglazed, the clay can still bind with the proteins that would cause an acidic taste– thus softening a cheaper, everyday wine.
Since I am the Queen of cheap, everyday wine, I had to have a set of these glasses. For about $10 a glass, we were set for our experiment. We tried them that evening on an affordable Spanish bottle, and have brought them out again and again for our affordable, everyday stand-bys.
I have to say, they really do work, especially if you pour the wine and let it hang out for 15 minutes or so. The only downside of this is that after a while, the wine starts to stain the glass, since the clay really does absorb it. We even did some blind taste testing of wine that had been mellowing awhile versus newly pored wine, and over time, things really do get smoother.
I still get out my real glasses for $15+ wine, but anything in my $10 or less category goes in the clay glasses now. They also keep the wine a nice cool temperature, and are so short they are hard to knock over. I’m all about wine gadgets that make cheap wine taste expensive, and I think these are my favourite gimmick yet.