I’m writing this in the continuous long Sunday afternoon that is the week in-between Christmas and New Year. The intake of food and drink at Higher Plot and at various relative’s abodes has been prodigious and the urge to write an article about further indulgence isn’t as strong as it could be. We don’t feel too guilty about taking advantage of the Slackmus period partly because the end of the holidays means getting our big coats on for the start of winter pruning and also, I’ve just read an article about the alcohol intake of one of the greats of the wine trade 90 year old Michael Broadbent’ His son wrote -
"Though my parents were in the wine business they aren't big drinkers. Champagne for breakfast because orange juice is so boring without Champagne. Then nothing until lunch, except perhaps you'd be given Madeira because their coffee was so bad. But otherwise nothing except for a Bloody Mary. They'd then have white and red wine with lunch and Port after, but that's not drinking, it is part of the meal. But nothing else until dinner, except the tea was so bad that you'd get Madeira instead. Before dinner, they would have one drink, either a gin and tonic or whiskey and then, of course, white and red wine with dinner followed by Port. However, because of my father's heart, his doctor told him "you have to have something to drink before bed", so then he has a Grand Marnier."
This sounds a prodigious and indeed, it is certainly way more than your doctor would recommend but the thing is, they drink out of very small glasses. Probably around 100ml. Over the years glasses have got larger and larger to the extent where it isn’t uncommon to be served wine in a 250ml glass in other words, a third of a bottle and more than the recommended daily allowance for a woman.
This picture is of some of the glasses that we have at home. From left to right, the first two glasses are 18th Century wine glasses, not much more than a thimbleful in today’s terms. The third one is still pretty small, a Paris Goblet which was common up to the 1990’s. The fourth is what’s called an ISO glass. This is what we use at the farm. It’s a completely standard size and shape and is to be found in practically every professional tasting room from Tuscany to Tumbarumba. It’s based on the Sherry Copita and if you could only have one glass for every type of wine ( or spirit for that matter), this would do the job. Second from the right is our personal favourite. It’s a Riedel restaurant red wine glass. Handmade Riedels cost a fortune but these machine made ones are around £3.50 and £5.00 per glass and comfortably hold 175ml. The last glass doesn’t come out of its box very often. It’s made by Dartington and the large surface area means that you can practically stick your face inside it if you have a really special wine.
If there was only one rule about which wine glasses to buy it would be that they should narrow towards the top to capture wines lovely aromas. That being said, drinking young red wine from a beaker in the tapas bars in Rioja works just fine and, of course you can’t beat a glass of fizz from one of those Champagne Coupes allegedly modeled on Madame de Pompadour's breast.