Jonathan Ray picks the best wine glasses for you superyacht and alights on the few classics that you really need on board...
Fine wine deserves fine glassware, even on a superyacht – especially on a superyacht. Why drink your 1990 Château Palmer from a Duralex tumbler when it’ll taste (and look) twice as good when sipped from a hand-blown, lead crystal glass from Dartington or Riedel?
And that’s after it has been decanted. Almost any wine, be it a humble house red, a top-class vintage claret, an ancient riesling, an oaked white burgundy or even a sweet Champagne, tastes (and looks) better for having been decanted - plus it's a great way to store wine on board your superyacht. Serving wine straight from the bottle is no better than serving milk straight from the carton.
This is all well and good, but how do you cater for life on board, where even on the largest of superyachts space for endless glassware is limited? Take Riedel, for example. The family owned Austrian company, founded in 1756, is many a wine lover’s glassmaker of choice and its glasses are indeed exquisite. But it decided long ago that since each style of wine has its own distinctive flavour profile, it needs to be delivered into the mouth in such a way that hits the taste receptors on the tongue in just the right spot: sweetness at the tip, bitter at the back and salty at the sides.
And so it is that Riedel’s handmade, mouth-blown Superleggero “super light” range (which you might think would be ideal for having on board) has a glass especially for viognier, for riesling, for shiraz and so on, marking on the stem the variety each glass suits best. All very fascinating, and useful in your roomy kitchen at home, but not much use when it comes to life at sea.
Some glassware companies have launched more sea-worthy collections, such as the San Francisco-based Superduperstudio’s spill-proof Saturn glasses. These are light and surprisingly satisfying to drink from – and useful if the sea gets choppy. The wide curve above the base of each glass ensures that if it’s knocked over it topples only so far, and the contents remain safely un-spilled inside.
But as with all things, less is more, and while I’m firmly in favour of beautiful glasses you really need only a couple. At Dom Pérignon I discovered that its chef de cave, Richard Geoffroy, serves his inimitable Champagne in large red wine glasses. The wide-brimmed coupes, famously modelled on the left breast of Marie Antoinette – and, more recently, on that of Kate Moss – are too expansive, Geoffroy tells me, allowing the bubbles to disappear too quickly. The flute, on the other hand, is too narrow, making Champagne taste too lean. An ample red wine glass makes the Champagne taste, well, ample.
And no less an authority than Maurice Hennessy, the eighth generation of his family to work at the eponymous cognac house, says fine cognac should be served in a sherry or white wine glass rather than a brandy balloon, which is better suited for goldfish. So, in the end, all you need are some white wine glasses, some red wine glasses and a few decanters, leaving you plenty of space for the most important thing of all: bottles.