Monday, November 27, 2006
If anyone had told me that I would fall head over heels for Riedel’s line of stemless wineglasses, known as the ‘O’ line, I would have laughed. One of my former jobs required that I pay close attention to things like crystal, china and silver, and I would have told you that I was too well-informed to fall for a silly marketing gimmick. They cost about as much as similar glasses from the same manufacturer with stems. What is so genius about this is that something like 80% of the cost of manufacturing a wineglass is the stem. Maximilian Riedel, the 11th generation Riedel heir is credited with dreaming up the ‘O’ line, and boy, must his family be happy. Not only are the glasses cheaper to make, their sudden chicness has prompted a whole slew of people who already own perfectly good wineglasses to go out an buy a new set of glassware. Genius, I tell you. Knowing this, I thought I wouldn’t have been be tempted by the over-priced un-goblets, and yet, I was.
Recently I was given two of the Riedel glasses as a gift. They sat in my cabinet forlorn and unused. Then one day I pulled them off the shelf for a weekday dinner. Low and behold, I discovered I loved them. I liked the feel of the bulbous glass in my hand without the pretension of a delicate, teetering stem. It suddenly seemed to me that these glasses were the perfect compromise between a traditional wine glass and a juice glass (my usual alternative to a stemmed glass on a casual night). I’ve found myself imagining throwing out all my traditional wineglasses and all the various juice glasses I have amassed for serving vino and replacing them with a set of simple, no-stem wine glasses. The Riedel crystal isn’t in my budget — thankfully just about everyone has begun knocking them off, so they can be had for a mere $2 a glass at Crate & Barrel. And even if I do opt to ditch the stems for my everyday wine, I still think it would be criminal to put champagne in a glass without a stem.