Berry Bros. & Rudd Presents: The Wine Merchant’s Glasses
(London, United Kingdom) – Berry Bros. & Rudd, the world’s oldest wine and spirits merchant has launched a new range of premium glassware to further enhance the pleasure of wine.
The range of seven hand-made glasses have been designed by John Jenkins & Sons with the help of Berrys’ five Masters of Wine who have helped to ensure they look supremely elegant on the table and deliver wine to the palate of the consumer in a way that maximizes its enjoyment.
Named The Wine Merchant’s Glasses, this is the second time Berrys’ has produced a range of glasses. In 1931, work began producing a range to Francis Berry’s design which Berry Bros. & Co would sell to their customers. Two years later the designs were approved and the glasses appeared on the price list for the first time.
Chairman of Berry Bros. & Rudd, Simon Berry, echoes the thoughts of his grandfather Francis Berry who believed that it is possible to enhance the pleasure of wine using better glassware instead of buying more expensive bottles.
“Almost 80 years on from my grandfather’s original designs, I have re-interpreted the range for the modern table. We use larger glasses nowadays, and are aware that different designs of bowl accentuate the flavors of different styles of wine. We have kept the cornerstone of his range – his ‘Large Wine Glass’, my ‘Port & Sauternes Glass’, and from its perfect proportions designed a range which includes two red wine glasses, two white wine glasses, a Champagne Glass and a Whisky & Water Glass,” Simon says.
Berrys’ Wine Buying Director, Alun Griffiths MW, says,“The glasses are hand-made and have been designed with balance in mind. They are not top heavy when half-filled with wine, and the stems sit easily in the hand to enable the glass to be swirled to release the wines’ essential aromas. Recent advances in technology also ensure that the range, which is totally lead-free, has exceptional clarity whilst retaining excellent durability.”
Each glass is made from a potash/soda/plain glass mix with added barium, which helps to impart the desired clarity. The rim is exceptionally fine and the stems have been drawn from the bowl, not added on separately, thus creating balance, stability and durability. Production takes place in Poland and Berry Bros. & Rudd’s chosen supplier enjoys the reputation of being one of the finest manufacturers of high-quality, hand-made glassware.
Francis Berry was known as a connoisseur of glass as much as of wine. After his death in 1936, his extensive and unique collection of glassware dating from Ancient Greece to the Nineteenth Century ended up in the British Museum, the Fitzwilliam and formed the basis of the collection of the Vintners’ Company. His obituary was written by his great friend André Simon, who spoke of his ‘passion for collecting beautiful and rare glass’.
But glass was never just a beautiful object to sit on a shelf and be admired: it needed to be used, and its prime purpose was to enhance the enjoyment of wine. As André Simon also pointed out, Francis Berry was ‘the most admirable host imaginable, giving his guests the finest wines… in the finest possible glasses.’ His belief was ‘twenty per cent of the enjoyment of wine comes from the glass it is drunk from.’
The Wine Merchant’s Glasses:
The Red Bordeaux Glass
The key here is to have a bowl of depth and breadth, with the rim slightly tapered at the top to concentrate the bouquet. Some fashionable examples are so big that they can hold almost a whole bottle of wine, and sometimes this means that the aromas of a more delicate wine can seem lost. Red Bordeaux can be high in tannins and acidity, so the glass has been shaped to enhance the expression of fruit on the mid-palate. This glass would also work well for Northern Rhône reds, which share some of the characteristics of Red Bordeaux.
Mark Pardoe MW
The Champagne Glass
The world has moved away from the saucer-shaped glass to the flute, which is now widely accepted. Although very elegant in shape, the flute does not always allow for the fullest aromatic expression of a Champagne, as the top of the glass is narrow. We have created a glass with a wider, fuller bowl to enable the bouquet to express itself fully, particularly important when drinking champagnes with age or with powerful aromas. The glass has a deep v-shape at the base of the bowl, the bottom of which has been laser-etched to ensure that a brilliant stream of fine bubbles rises effortlessly up the glass.
Simon Field MW
Berrys’ Champagne Buyer
The White Burgundy Glass
Burgundy, red and white, is perhaps one of the most sensual of wines, and we have sought to design a glass which reflects this characteristic. Although designing a wide bowl to maximize aromatic expression, the rim is marginally fluted outwards, directing the flow of wine to the palate where its natural richness is emphasized. Whilst being ideal for Chardonnay from all parts of the world I feel sure that this glass will also be excellent for broad-flavored, richly textured white wines such as Rhône, (especially Viognier), Rioja and Pinot Gris.
Jasper Morris MW
Berrys’ Burgundy Director
The Red Burgundy Glass
As with White Burgundy, the Red Burgundy Glass has been designed in a very similar shape, but slightly larger. The appeal of Red Burgundy, for most consumers, lies in its heady bouquet and silky texture. The wide bowl permits full aromatic expression, and the manner in which the wine is directed onto the palate enables the natural textural softness of the Pinot Noir grape to be fully enjoyed. Use it for Pinot Noir from other parts of the world too, and I feel it would also be ideal for the powerfully aromatic wines of Piedmont such as Barolo and Barbaresco.
Jasper Morris MW
Berrys’ Burgundy Director
The Port & Sauternes Glass
For decades Berry Bros. & Rudd has used a small, perfectly-formed glass described in its price list as, appropriately, a Small Wine Glass. This was largely used for white wine in terms of in-house entertaining, but is ideally suited to any aromatic wines served in small measures. Port and Sauternes fit the bill, as would any sweet wine, frankly. In our new range we have sought to design something in a similar vein, but slightly larger to allow proper swirling of the glass. Far too many Ports, in particular, and fortified wines in general have traditionally been served in tiny glasses which are hopeless with regard to experiencing a wine’s bouquet.
Simon Field MW
Berrys’ Port Buyer
The White Bordeaux Glass
This is a glass designed for fresh, aromatic young wines. The shape is designed to concentrate aromas but also to highlight crispness and elegance. Sauvignon Blanc from both White Bordeaux and the Loire falls naturally into this category, but Riesling and Chenin Blanc would also work well in this style of glass. Albariño, Gewurztraminer and Muscat fall into this grouping too.
Alun Griffiths MW
Berrys’ Wine Buying Director
The Whisky & Water Glass
We would not seek to claim any earth-shattering technical innovation for this glass, instead, we have sought to produce a perfectly-balanced, fine glass of great clarity, solidly-based, and perfect for spirits which might require the addition of mixers and ice-cubes, or simply as a water glass.
Martin Hudson MW
Berrys’ Education Specialist
The Champagne Glass – £47.50, $75.40; The White Burgundy Glass – £50, $79.37
The Red Burgundy Glass – £55, $87.30; The Port & Sauternes Glass – £27.50, $43.65
The White Bordeaux Glass – £47.50, $75.40 ; The Whisky & Water Glass – £35, $55.56