“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”

DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland ... Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin)





30 March 2009


Genius Improves The Wine Glass
Dry Your Glassware With A Ring


Apart from my dark suspicion that on a good night, somebody like Geoff Merrill might attempt to drink from one of these, designer Guido Ooms has had a bright idea.

Each of these US$120 glass-globes contains twenty warm white high intensity light-emitting diodes that might last a decade, or 30,000 hours, whichever comes first.

The next step will be to offer them in a range of colours: Oloroso, Aged Claret, Burgundy, Rosé, and for the darkest, naughtiest night, Barossa Black Shiraz.

These globes are a lurvly kitsch partner for the doorbell Peter van der Jagt designed in 1994. It can be mounted as a hanging, upright, or horizontal ringer, and ideally should be set to gong every morning at elevenses, as well as advising you that a potential drinking compadre is at your door.

That’s all very well, but the obsessive hot-rodder within would have me quickly attempting to replace these rather utilitarian glasses with mouth-blown Riedel crystal. You could change your ding-dong at whim: you know, on a sombre day you’d have the solemn leaden gong of the Bordeaux Grand Cru on one side, and the Burgundy Grand Cru, with its pouty twisted lip, on the other. Feeling more sparkly? Try the crystal chime of the Riesling Grand Cru playing tintinnabular counterpoint to the svelte Vintage Champagne.

This would present a challenge to the Riedels, who, after all those long years blowing glasses, must by now be running out of ideas, or at least getting tired. They could then concentrate their austere Austrian technocracy on ensuring that every glass has perfect pitch, which would add some interest for the teetotaller or musical drunk as well as making the world a better place.

I was once introduced to the great Gorg Riedel, who appeared to click his heels before shaking my hand. Having congratulated him on the beauty and craft of his glassware, and praising him for the fact that I have yet to encounter a leaking Riedel, I explained my technique for removing the canker from the impossible-to-reach reaches of the beautiful Ultra Magnum ship’s decanter, which is a gorgeous thing to tip wine into, then observe and adore, but nearly bloody impossible to pour wine from. You can never empty the last glassful from the damned thing without inverting it the full 180º, at which point it presents the table linen with a flow about as precise as your average Tyrolean cow.

Anyway, I explained that the cleansing trick is to empty the lead shot from a carton of twelve guage duckshot cartidges, spill them into your beautiful Ultra Magnum with some warm water and detergent, and simply swish it about awhile. While he gradually turned his head away, his eyes gazed intently at me, widening, transfixed.

Before his eyes followed the aversionary motion of his head, I suggested he produce a firm glass with the bowl of, say, the Tinto Riserva, but with a thick glass base in place of a stem. These, I suggested would be so successful that the return customers he’d lose through diminishing breakages would be easily replaced, and more, by others suddenly confident enough to risk a glass that looked nowhere near as dangerous a proposition for the enthusiastic drinker with a limited receptacle budget.

Receptacle brought me to spectacle, and before he turned and fled I explained that in Australia we call spectacles glasses, so he should do a line in designer shades and prescription eyewear. You know, we could then choose to wear The Nebbiolo, The Fino, or the Vintage Port. Riedel wine glasses! He’d make a motza!

Now that I notice my penultimate suggestion is well and truly in production, without so much as a thankyou Herr Weiss, I trust my dear friends in the Riedel family are hard at it, working on the mouth-blown, hand-made drinkers’ eyeglasswear, comfortable in the knowledge that there’s no fee other than their service of my trust that they never ever let Austria be naughty again.

But I’d still love a pair of Riedel Nightsight Grüner Vertliners with cross-hairs in the lenses.

Once they've perfected those, they can begin work on the perfect wine closure.

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