Since it had been mentioned in the Somni thread on LA, I looked up “Zalto” since I know nothing about wine glasses. A funny (and perhaps informative) article here:
Thank you for posting. The author is making many great points about Zalto glass.
I do find phrase “Each wine smelled and tasted smoother from the Zaltos” quite ridiculous.
In my opinion, “smoother” is not a compliment when describing wine.
At home I use Zalto Universal glass and love it.
Many high end restaurants in the US and Europe use Zalto glasses.
They are sturdier then they appear. I have only broken one glass over about 3-4 year term.
Where the stem is attaching to the bowl is their weak point.
Here is another nice write up about Zalto.
Glassware That Raises the Wine Bar
Not all drinking vessels are created equal. A look at the stemware that will change the way your wine tastes
From left: Gabriel-Glas One for All; Riedel Sommeliers Bordeaux; Zalto Universal; Stölzle Bordeaux Exquisit; Spiegelau Hybrid Burgundy F. MARTIN RAMIN/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Jan. 3, 2014 1:13 p.m. ET
SOME CHILDREN GROW up in musical families and learn how to sing or play an instrument. I grew up in a family whose focus was glassware. Did you ever see a glass so well-proportioned? Did you notice how it catches the light, my father might ask, holding up a wine glass made somewhere like Poland or France. (He rarely mentioned the wine.) A running joke between my sister and me was that no matter what the topic might be, my father could turn it to glassware.
My father spent decades working for a variety of glass companies, and our cabinets contained glasses from all over the world: Ireland, England, Austria, Finland, Germany and the U.S.
FIVE WINE GLASSES THAT WILL WIDEN YOUR (DRINKING) WORLD
Click to view slideshow. F. MARTIN RAMIN/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Today, my own glassware collection is much less wide-ranging. There are three types of wine glasses in my house—red, white and Champagne—although the red wine glass is the only one that I consistently use. The white wine glass is too small, and the flutes are too fussy. Perhaps it’s a very late form of childhood rebellion, but I don’t focus overmuch on glassware.
After a few memorable encounters with some particularly impressive stemware, though, I began to think I might be missing out. And as Aldo Sohm, chef sommelier of Le Bernardin restaurant in New York, said to me recently, one glass simply isn’t enough. Or as he put it: “Life is simple. But not that simple.” In fact, Mr. Sohm went even further, saying, “You can’t love wine and not care about wine glasses.”
Mr. Sohm was one of two New York sommeliers whom I met with in recent weeks to talk about glassware. The second was Thomas Carter, wine director of Estela, a trendy newish restaurant downtown. Both men are quite knowledgeable about glassware, and could even be described as glassware-obsessed.
Mr. Carter is an impassioned audiophile, and he finds many parallels between the two worlds. “Speakers are to music as glasses are to wine,” was one of the first things that he said to me when we met at Estela. Although Mr. Carter’s restaurant is small and the wine list is short, his collection of wine glasses is large and somewhat untraditional. For example, he likes to pour Champagne into white wine glasses. “Champagne flutes make no sense,” he said. “Champagne is a wine that just happens to have bubbles.”
Mr. Carter believes that a wine glass can alter the taste of a wine—for better or worse—and he pulled together a sampling of his stemware to prove his point. We had six glasses for tasting two wines—a red and a white. There was a bulbous Burgundy glass, a straight-sided Bordeaux glass and a smaller white wine glass, all made by the German company Stölzle, as well the 7-ounce glass from Bormioli Rocco that Mr. Carter was using for all of his wines by the glass. He also brought out two possible replacements for the Bormioli—a glass made by Riedel and one by Spiegelau.
He began with the red wine, a Gamay from the Loire, which we tasted from each of the glasses. The Bormioli glass was so small that I could barely get my fingers around the stem, let alone fit my nose in its bowl. It didn’t offer much of an impression of anything. The wine was as lacking in distinction as the glass. The Bormioli glass’s two possible replacements were a bit better—they had larger bowls and more room between the bowl and the stem. (Mr. Carter explained that he initially chose the small glass to convey a certain casual, unpretentious attitude about wine.)
But the bowl of a wine glass must be large enough to facilitate swirling, which all serious wine drinkers do to coax the aromas out of the glass. (Mr. Carter, a dedicated swirler, calls it “kneading the wine.”)
‘ ‘You can’t love wine and not care about wine glasses,’ said a sommelier. ’
The wide-mouthed Burgundy glass accentuated the wine’s bright cherry notes, and made it seem pleasingly fruity. (Burgundy glasses are generally believed to accentuate fruit; they tilt the wine toward the front of the tongue.) The taller Bordeaux glass showed a higher acid side of the wine. (Bordeaux glasses generally orient the wine to the back of the tongue, and are said to highlight a wine’s structure.) The white wine glass made the red wine seem rather herbaceous. "Some people might even call that aroma ‘mousy,’ " Mr. Carter offered. That was a very good reason not to serve the wine out of this glass, I thought to myself.
The differences were striking, and they turned out to be even greater in the case of the white, a Chardonnay from Jura, in eastern France. The Bormioli bombed once again. The wine tasted like something you’d be served in coach class on a plane. (Mr. Carter, equally displeased with the glass, has since switched it out for one from Spiegelau.) Clearly the glass from which we were tasting wasn’t doing the wines any great favors. The Chardonnay was pleasant if simple in the smaller, tulip-shape white wine glass. In the rounded Burgundy glass, it seemed a bit flat. But in the squarish Bordeaux glass, the Chardonnay was round and generous, even complex.
It was an interesting, if somewhat inconclusive exercise. There wasn’t one glass that consistently showed best. Mr. Carter said it would have been different if he’d had his Zaltos, Austrian glasses with a slight trapezoidal shape and a cultish following. “Everything shows in a Zalto,” he said. Alas, his Zalto glasses were at home, not at the restaurant. “They’re just too expensive,” Mr. Carter explained.
I’d heard about Zalto glasses many times. They’re delicate, hand-blown, lead-free crystal glasses whose angles, the company says, are designed to mimic the tilt of the Earth (which somehow improves the taste of the wine, according to Zalto). The one time I drank from a Zalto, I was worried it would break. When I mentioned this to Mr. Sohm, he told me that the glasses weren’t fragile at all—in fact, he’d carried two in a bag on the subway from Manhattan to Queens and back without breakage. The intra-borough odyssey was one of several tests that Mr. Sohm performed before signing on as the “American face” of Zalto glass.
Mr. Sohm said that the glasses were the “most powerful” he’d ever encountered. He still uses Riedel and Spiegelau stemware at the restaurant; in fact, when I stopped by Le Bernardin one afternoon he brought out a couple of Spiegelau glasses to compare with the Zaltos in an impromptu tasting of Meursault and Champagne.
OFF DUTY’S HALF FULL
Millennium Punch F. MARTIN RAMIN/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, STYLING BY ANNE CARDENAS
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Once more, there were stark differences—the bulbous Spiegelau Burgundy glass made the Meursault seem fatter and flatter while in the Zalto Universal glass, it was more minerally, showing a higher level of acidity. In short, it just seemed more precise. I tried them both over and over. The Spiegelau shows the fruit and the Zalto shows the minerality, said Mr. Sohm.
Mr. Sohm was certainly an impressive advocate, but since he earns a royalty from the company, I needed to try the glass again for myself—and against the one I’d been using at home. So I bought a Zalto Universal (said to work with all wines—never mind Mr. Sohm) for $59 from Crush Wine & Spirits in New York. I poured a simple Dolcetto into both glasses. The wine was pleasant, if a bit muted, in my standard glass. It was brighter in the Zalto, but it seemed a bit simple and one-dimensional. That’s another thing people say about Zalto—everything is sharper, for better or worse. I thought of Mr. Carter’s audio analogy. It was like hearing mediocre music blaring out of very good speakers.
I repeated the experiment a couple of days later with a much better wine—the 2010 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Chassagne-Montrachet Les Baudines. The wine was still young and showing a fair amount of acidity. Marked by citrus notes with a firm mineral thread, it was lovely in both glasses, but it practically vibrated in the Zalto.
My husband, who had been happily drinking from our basic glass for years, tasted the wine from both. He preferred the Chassagne-Montrachet in the Zalto, but he was even more impressed by how the Zalto looked, and the way that it felt. “I don’t want to stop holding this glass,” he said.
That’s another quality of a great wine glass—it must be lovely to look at and to hold. That was something that my father knew best.
I quite like Zaltos. I use them for their Champagne glasses and Burgundy glasses. Gabriel Glass is another nice stemware maker, and Californios was using another, smaller brand which was pretty nice as well at an approachable price point. They gave me the card - I’ll dig it up sometime.
Lol, Is Spiegelau unfashionable? Personally I like that they feel more sturdy
Please do, when you get a chance. SO would like to get some nice stemware that doesn’t break the bank.
So you can tell just by looking? It seems like I see this shape occasionally at places where I know good and well that it’s not anything pricey.