The experience of drinking has been improved and refined over the years, thanks to the evolution of glassware design. You see, the glass that you pour your drink into can actually help enhance the aromas and body of the drink, as well as help maximise its flavours.
There are five essential parameters to judge quality in glassware; thickness, cut, sound, weight and refraction. In terms of raw materials, soda lime makes up more than 90 per cent of all glass that is manufactured these days. It’s inexpensive, fuss-free, and great for everyday use.
Crystal, on the other hand, is a more delicate type of glass and is composed of silica, lead oxide, potash and other chemical additives. It is heavier and of finer quality than soda lime glass. It also has more clarity, which is why crystal is such a popular material of choice for wine glasses, chandeliers, etc.
Tip: As a rule of the thumb, purchase crystal from reputed brands that guarantee you the highest quality.
- Hold the vessel up against a light source. If you notice that classic rainbow prism effect, the material is crystal. If not, it’s just plain soda lime glass.
- Tap the glass and listen out for a musical ring. If you hear that, your vessel is made of crystal.
- Crystal can be made really thin. So, if you notice that the rim of your glass is exceptionally thin, it’s most likely crystal.
- Glass typically has sharper cuts, whereas crystal is normally rounded, polished and boasts of precision cuts.
- Then there’s clarity, which is a huge distinguishing factor between glass and crystal. Crystal with over 35-per-cent lead is likely to sparkle.
Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or the occasional wine drinker, your choice of glass will impact your experience of the drink significantly.
The martini glass is iconic to say the least. You’ll recognise it instantly thanks to its broad V-shaped bowl and long stem. Today, the martini glass is used to serve a variety of cocktails, and is a must-have for any home bar.
The highball is a tall and narrow tumbler that is often used to serve cocktails or mixed drinks. Think gin and tonic, rum and coke, etc. You can use the highball to serve drinks with a higher ratio of mixture to alcohol. They’re also great to use as water glasses.
The lowball or the double old-fashioned is a flat-bottomed tumbler with short sides. Think scotch and soda, bourbon and water, even whisky on the rocks. This one’s great for a variety of whisky-based cocktails and is a staple in many bars. Plus, it’s versatile. You can use it to serve juices for breakfasts too.
Snifters have a very short stem and a rounded bowl, so you can cradle the drink in your hand and help keep it warm. The large bowl helps you swirl the drink, while its short mouth ensures its aromas are trapped for longer.
Pilsner glass: This trumpet-shaped glass is tall, slender, tapered and ideal for capturing the sparkling colours and bubbles of a pilsner beer. The wide glass top helps retain the beer’s foamy head. Some pilsner glasses are available with a small stem at the bottom.
Decanters look exceedingly decorative and will make for a fitting addition to your bar tray. They can help you mix your cocktails (if preparing in large volumes), serve water, or even aerate your wine.
The more ornate designs are usually made of crystal, and will cost more than their glass counterparts. Decanters can be identified by a rounded, wide bottom and narrow neck. Some designs are available with stoppers to help limit air exposure.
Tip: When you decant wine, you’re letting it breathe and helping it release its flavours better. Do this for an hour before serving.
It also pays to invest in jugs or pitchers as they are a handy addition to your kitchen, especially during mealtimes. Opt for interesting designs to add some appeal to your dining table setting.
Always remember to make your choices based on the type of beverages you love drinking or serving at home. Similarly, also take into account how often you entertain and have people over.
With regards to everyday glassware such as highball or lowball tumblers, you’ll want to account for at least two pieces per family member.
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