On the hunt for new wine glasses, Annabel Onyango finds her attitude towards wine is reflected in her choice of glassware.
Wine glasses never last long in our house. It’s because they are so frequently and fervently used by us and all manner of people who stop by for a drink on any given day or night. Broken glass and spilled wine means that you’re having a good time! Growing up, my parents used to stow away the good wine glasses in a cabinet somewhere, to be unlocked only when there was important company coming to dinner. The glasses would be carefully washed, dried, and presented on a silver tray with whatever bottle (opened with great flair) my dad deemed worthy of the occasion. Wine was a BIG DEAL.
So off I go shopping for glassware.
In keeping with the eclectic tone of my life, I’m not a fan of sets. I like individual pieces of anything, each with its own look and feel and character. Sets of drinking glasses remind me too much of the eighties. I love Kitengela Glass precisely because every glass made there is unique, mixed-and-matched in every colour you can think of. They are handmade (from recycled wine bottles no less) and no two pieces look exactly the same.
But here I was at the mall, confronted by an aisle full of glass sets. Likely all made in China. So you know what I did next? I picked a set (6 in a box) of each – a chardonnay set, a bordeaux set, a long-stem set, a flute set, and two boxes of tumblers. My thinking was that I would take out three from each box, put the rest away, and replace them as they inevitably broke one by one. Then visually on a table I could still have my eclectic, doesn’t-take-itself-too-seriously feel.
My parents’ prized crystal wine goblets signaled to us kids that wine was special. It was to be savoured only on special occasions. My deliberate mish-mash of wine glasses and relaxed attitude about breakage (I even keep the chipped ones) shows that exactly the opposite applies – that wine is to be enjoyed at any time with anyone. Cheap bottles, pricier brands, pulled from the cellar or picked up at the corner store, corked or twisted open, sipped over a fancy meal or downed with a burger – wine is the everyday elixir of life.
On the way to the cash register, I did the only thing you can do after picking out every conceivable type of wine glass invented – I grabbed a bottle of the Fat Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon. How else to test the new glasses?