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  • A Brief History of Wine Glasses

    5 posts, 5 voices, 2889 views, started Mar 13, 2009

    Posted on Friday, March 13, 2009 by Denise Richardson


    • Diamond

      A Brief History of Wine Glasses
      Wine glasses have been used since ancient times.

      Pliny (23–79 A.D.) wrote about gold and silver drinking vessels being abandoned in favor of glass, and they were frequently priced as high as the precious metal versions. Bonifacio Veronese's sixteenth-century 'Last Supper' includes modern style wine glasses with a stem and foot.

      The oldest surviving European wine glasses with a stem and foot are fifteenth-century enameled goblets (a goblet is a glass holding more than four ounces of liquid).

      Near the end of the sixteenth-century in Germany sophisticated engraved decoration was applied to covered wine glasses.

      The earliest surviving English wine glasses are diamond-engraved glasses that were produced near the end of the sixteenth-century by Verzelini. Plain straight stems gained popularity around 1740, with air twist stems being introduced about the same time. Ten years later a twist incised on the exterior of the stem became popular.

      Quality crystal wine glasses were being produced in France near the end of the eighteenth-century.

      Cordial glasses in the eighteenth-century had bowls of the same shapes that were typical for wine glasses, but they were much smaller, holding about one ounce.

      Toast masters glasses were made with a thicker bottom and walls so that they would hold less. A toast master had to drain every glass and still be able to remain standing till all toasts were completed.

      Wine glasses during the nineteenth-century were often produced in sets — with a dozen each of port and sherry, burgundy and claret, champagne glasses and liqueur glasses.

      More recently, in the 1950s, Riedel Crystal and other stemware manufacturers have refined wine glass design to the point of having a unique size and shape for almost every wine variation.

      Wine glasses are made for drinking wine, of course, but people are creative and have found other uses ranging from combining several wine glasses to construct a glass harp to using stemware in a similar manner to provide sound education.
      Some of the research for this article on the history of wine glasses came from the following books which I recommend reading if you’d like to learn more:
      Glass and Glassware, by George Savage © 1973 Octopus Books Limited
      In Celebration of Wine and Life, by Richard Lamb & Ernest G. Mittelberger 1974
      Discovering Wine, by Joanna Simon © 1994 Mitchell Beazley Publishers


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