Let’s face it, in our culture most people are obsessed with the concept of “bigger is better.” Whether it is our oversized Hummer limousines, political candidates, or winning 1.5 billion dollar Powerball contests, we live by the mantra, “GO BIG OR GO HOME!”
Now, it appears this concept is creeping into a new realm: WINE GLASSES.
If you haven’t seen them yet, you probably are not looking hard enough. These large wine glasses are popping up in pop culture already, being used by celebrity reality stars and on television shows where contestants are looking for love. Many high end restaurants have also started serving wine in extra-large glasses. Even with a normal pour, diners inevitably feel special, powerful and glamorous – not to mention the envy of those at the next table drinking out of a “normal” glass.
So, what does drinking from such a large glass say about the wine drinker besides, “I love to drink a lot of wine?” Maybe the size of the glass really is more a statement about the individual and his or her large appetite for life or desire to stand out in a crowd.
Whatever the motivation, it turns out that there are real benefits to tall wine glasses that actually make for a more nuanced and fulfilling wine drinking experience.
To learn more, we found one of the largest hand-blown wine glasses on the market, a 12 inch tall wine glass from 12Obsession. Although it is hard to look at without thinking “man, that is big!” these wine glasses are surprisingly elegant, proportional and come in a variety of sizes and shapes depending on the type of wine or spirit.
“We really wanted to design a large wine glass series that not only intensifies wine aroma, but allows the different layers of aroma to come through,” says John D’Addario, founder of 12Obsession, a manufacturer of uniquely sized luxury stemware designed to unveil the true characteristics of a wine, whether it’s a rich Tuscan or a refreshing chardonnay.
These specialty, lead-free crystal wine glasses are made in a traditional, blown-glass style as opposed to machine-made like many today. Due to its increased size, the company’s glasses are able to support a larger bowl—six inches in height—than most stemware.
According to D’Addario, a larger bowl allows the wine to coat a greater surface area of the glass. This vital feature helps to greatly amplify aroma. “With typical smaller wine glasses being sold in the market you are allowing aromas to escape,” he says.
As the wine aerates or “breathes,” it releases its basic aromas and fruity, mineral, or floral notes. Taking in these aromas and notes by sniffing the wine helps to prime the taste buds, which provides a more satisfying drinking experience.
In addition, most red wines feature 13 to 15 percent alcohol. Interestingly, alcohol may help to impart a nice buzz, but it actually masks the aromas and flavors of wine. A larger bowl intensifies aroma, thereby reducing the perception of alcohol.
Always conscientious of the overall wine-drinking experience, D’Addario made sure that his 12-inch stemware did not come across as bulky or ungainly.
Unlike other manufacturers, these large wine glasses do not have an oversized base. He points out that the bowls of each wine glass are designed to be fairly deep, so the center of gravity sits in the middle, as opposed to higher up. This helps to ensure that a glass, even when filled with wine, is not top-heavy.
“In our case, many people are surprised that this big glass is actually very light and easy to handle,” he says.
The glassware is available in 12 different shapes to optimize the wine drinking experience of other types of wine and spirits. For example, for port or grappa, D’Addario designed big wine glasses that feature bowls with a distinctly unique tunnel-shape. The designs help channel subtle aromas that a wine enthusiast might otherwise miss.
In keeping with its elegant design, D’Addario is a proponent of glassware that is handmade, in the traditional blown-glass style. The process, he says, is an artistic one that dates back thousands of years. Many traditional glassblowers, in fact, use techniques that have been passed down through the generations. The blown-glass style, while time-consuming, guarantees that the final product will feature a distinct human touch.
All the major brands on the market, such as Riedel, Spiegelau, Schott Zweisel often use machines to create their glassware. “But they are not adding any human element to it,” says D’Addario.
D’Addario sees this type of glass as being ideal for holidays and special occasions as well, including romantic occasions such as Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, dates and even weddings.
To help set the mood and accentuate the sensuality of the experience, 12Obsession offers specialized packaging that features tasteful, sensual and romantic photographic images.
For D’Addario, the overarching goal of a large wine glass is to give wine the respect it deserves, and allow a wine enthusiast to fully enjoy a wine. “It’s about having that great bottle of wine,” he says. “And serving that great bottle of wine in glassware that can elevate the whole approach to the wine drinking experience.”