So here we go again…
A few years back — almost four, I think — I was introduced by a dear friend to Eisch (then-called) Breathable wineglasses. I was skeptical of the company's claim that the glasses would, in two to four minutes, aerate wine to the same degree as two hours of decanting.
But from my very first try, I was a convert. Heck, I became a disciple! I couldn't believe the difference in the same wine when I compared sips from an ordinary wineglass to sips from the Eisch. The wine in the Eisch glasses — and I'd purposely used an average wine, an unspectacular $13 Cabernet — not only had an improved taste, but even the aroma was altered. The wine smelled fuller, more vibrant, more inviting.
Flavour-wise, the difference was extraordinary. Richer, rounder, more robust, the Eisched wine was just ... better. WAY better. It tasted like I'd expect a $17 or $18 wine to taste.
So it made sense that, despite the cost of the glasses (about $30 a stem), I would buy several, and use them almost exclusively. Which I did. Until two things happened.
One, we started to break them, mostly because we set them down a little too heavily on our tiled kitchen countertops, causing the stems to snap off just beneath the bowls. Between my husband and I, we managed to break five, which left us with only a pair remaining.
Two, I started to drink better wine. While price is not the only indicator of quality, it's a pretty good guideline in most cases. And the better the wine, the less it benefited from the Eisch glasses. Higher-end wine is already nearer to full flavour. It has more finesse. In some cases, it's somewhat soft and round, and in my opinion, the Eisch glasses can take really wonderful wines a little too far, and sometimes make them less good than they would be in ordinary glassware.
So for those reasons, my two intact Eisch glasses kind of migrated to the back of my cupboard. It wasn't like I forgot I had them, but rather that I was being protective of them. And since I was frequently drinking better, or at least rounder, less edgy wines, there was no need to use the Eisch.
That was the situation for about a year. Then I was introduced to some less-expensive wines that were, on first taste, quite promising. But they needed some fine-tuning. And that's when I reached for the Eisch glasses once again.
(Incidentally, the glasses are now called "Sensisplus" as opposed to "Breathable" because technically, glass doesn't breathe, and obviously somebody — probably a jealous competitor — created a big stink — even took the company to court — and the name had to be changed. But I speculate and digress.)
At the point this story begins, I was hosting a dinner party, and five of us had consumed and very much enjoyed a couple of bottles of lovely and relatively expensive wine. So since our palates had already been teased and pleased, it was logical for us to move something a little less fabulous.
In last week's column, I mentioned the Open Merlot ($13.52) from the Okanagan — gutsy, full of red fruit and black pepper — and the Don David Tannat ($13.26) from Argentina, which is chock-full of black currant, black cherry, some plum, and a hint of oak.
But while both were good, they were a little rough around the edges. And that’s when I trotted out the Eisch glasses for my company to try.
I didn’t tell them what I was up to, of course — that’s half the fun of these glasses. I just poured the same wine — in front of them — from the bottle into the ordinary glasses and the Eisch glasses. These are all experienced wine drinkers, and they could tell the difference right away. Like me, they oohed and aahed over the substantial change the Eisch made in the bouquet of both wines — it was much deeper — and the sudden expansion of fullness in the flavours.
Since that evening, I’ve sampled another of the Don David products, the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (also $13.26), with the same results. While I felt the Cab was a good representation of that varietal — aromas and flavours of black fruit and pepper — and I enjoyed it very much (I jotted it was "excellent!" in my wine notebook), it stepped up several notches in the Eisch glass.
Just as a side note, since I think it’s only fair to assess them on their merits without the use of "enhancements" like the Eisch glasses, I sample all the wines I write about from ordinary goblets.
But because the Eisch makes such a tremendous difference in so many wines, I’m frequently moved to revisit these seemingly enchanted cups in this column. I continue to be amazed and surprised by what they can do.
And although it makes me cringe, I think I’ve come up with a solution for my breakage problem. Since the issue, for my husband and me anyway, "stems" from just that, I’ve decided to invest in the Eisch Sensisplus all-purpose tumblers. While I loathe — loathe! — stemless wineglasses, I’m trying to cut my losses and still enjoy the benefits the Eisch glasses have to offer.
So my plan is this — use the all-purpose glasses to work their four-minute magic on lesser wines, then pour the transformed beverages into stemmed glasses for consumption.
I’m hoping it’ll be a win-win situation. And I promise to keep you posted.
Eisch Sensisplus glasses are available locally at The Little Shoppe and Zeke’s Quality Jewellers.