It was the early months of quarantine and I’d just lost my dad to a very brief and unexpected battle with cancer. He and I had shared a love of wine since I was old enough to take my first sip from his glass, and in the years since, my obsession only grew. Ultimately, I ended up pursuing a career as a wine and spirits writer, not only to fortify my bond with my dad, but to solidify his pride in me.
During my moments of grief and anger after his death, I sought comfort in a glass or two of his favorite reds here and there. Of course, grief drinking can be a slippery slope, and so I remained mindful of my consumption, an admittedly difficult task at times but a necessary precaution nonetheless. Looking back, I think I wanted to get through the bottles that had come into my family’s house while my dad was still alive, among them the easy-drinking Malbecs and Riojas he loved to sip with every dinner. They were too hard to look at, knowing he bought them on a run to the local liquor store just like any other, unaware that he would never get to drink them. It was a Band-Aid I needed to pull away carefully — but firmly.
After some time, I entered the inevitable impulse shopping stage of grief (in quarantine) and decided it was time to upgrade my stemware collection — coincidentally, I had just started a virtual sommelier certification course (productive distraction offering another coping mechanism) and felt it was time to invest in some serious wine glasses. If anything calls for a “treat yourself” moment, it’s trauma (a versatile justification I likely overused, but I digress). I’d initially had my heart set on Zalto, a favorite amongst my fellow wine professionals, but I thought it best to do a bit more research before pulling the trigger. That’s how I stumbled upon the Gabriel-Glas “One for All” Gold Edition.
The shape of the Gabriel-Glas allows it to function as three wine glasses in one.
Justus Benjamin, Certified Sommelier, Owner, Boutique Vino
From the beginning, my search was rather narrow by nature as I’m a proponent of the all-purpose wine glass above anything else. Sure, varietal-specific glasses can be the way to go in certain situations, but how much of that is marketing? At the end of the day, if you’re a casual wine drinker who typically enjoys opening a bottle right away over opting for cellaring (and buying wines accordingly), you can easily get away with stocking up on a few high-quality all-purpose wine glasses, or APs, as they’re colloquially known in the hospitality industry. Then, if need be, fill in any holes with varietal-specific glasses.
Zalto’s Denk’Art Universal Glass is undeniably among the best of the best, and cult-favorite Turkish glassware brand NUDE also has some very appealing and versatile options for reds and whites at a fraction of Zalto’s price tag, though their selection can be a bit overwhelming at times. While these brands have both been on my wish list for quite some time, I decided to dig a bit deeper to see what else was out there.
Coincidentally, I learned about Austrian crystal brand Gabriel-Glas around this time — its refreshing approach to stemware bucks the concept of variety in wine glasses altogether. Needless to say, I was intrigued.
The “one for all” concept that defines Gabriel-Glas comes in the form of two core stemware styles: the StandArt and the Gold Edition. Both are made of lead-free crystal and are identical in silhouette — a bowl shape optimized for pretty much any wine, including bubbles — the only difference being in each style’s construction.
The StandArt is machine-made, though it’s completely seam-free and extremely lightweight with a gossamer-thin rim (a quality that’s ideal for wine drinking, generally speaking). This glass weighs five ounces.
The StandArt's older, more elegant sister, the Gold Edition, is mouth-blown and light as a feather at just under three ounces — I squealed when I first removed the latter from its black gift box after both models arrived on my doorstep in the name of comparative research.
I immediately poured a few ounces of Pinot Noir into each and began my analysis.
Again, these two glasses share the exact same shape, which is designed to bring out the best of almost any still or sparkling wine with its broad bowl and gently-sloped walls. My first thought when tasting from the StandArt was that it made my $20 Pinot feel like a $50 Pinot, the Gold Edition amping up the experience even further with its razor-thin lip and barely-thereness. Over the next few days, I tasted a handful of other wines (Provençal rosé, brut Champagne, Rioja, Bordeaux, and more) from both just to see if they really were as great for all-purpose wine drinking as advertised, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Also, to my surprise, both glasses are dishwasher-safe and impressively durable thanks to their lack of stress points. It was almost too easy to fall in love with these glasses, so I asked a few other industry experts for their thoughts.
“Customers often ask me if the wine glass makes a difference,” said Justus Benjamin, a certified sommelier who owns and operates Boutique Vino, a wine shop in San Diego. “And it does.” It’s for this very reason Benjamin has been selling Gabriel-Glas in his store for the past four years.
“The shape of the Gabriel-Glas allows it to function as three wine glasses in one,” he explained. “The tulip shape — the little black dress of wine glasses — wonderfully enhances the aromas and taste of all wines, from Sauvignon Blancs to Cabernets. And once you've picked one up, all other glasses will seem heavy by comparison.” Though he attests to the durability of both models, Benjamin does recommend being selective about bringing these out when serving guests. “They should be saved for special occasions, guests you trust, or those among us who can light cigars with $20 bills,” he added.
Nicole MacKay, a WSET Level 3-certified wine and food writer, chimed in as a fellow advocate for the AP and lover of the Gabriel-Glas Gold Edition. “I’m a big fan of the ‘one-for-all’ concept but the Gold Edition really takes drinking wine to the next level. I want to get the best out of every wine bottle so I actually use the glass for everyday tasting, but the silhouette and pristine elegance make the glass look great on a table filled with loved ones,” she told me.
I also spoke with Paola Embry, CEO and wine director at the Wrigley Mansion in Phoenix, Arizona, who recommends the machine-made StandArt for casual everyday drinking, pointing out that this glass has a wonderfully fine rim despite coming in at less than half the cost of its mouth-blown counterpart, the Gold Edition. “Both glasses are as light as a feather, have a super thin lip, and a perfect size bowl,” she said. “One of the more important aspects of great glassware that I look for is the thinness of the rim.”
Depending on how often you drink wine at home and how precious you are with sharing your fine glassware, stocking up on both is not only a smart move for your wine collection but a functional way to do something nice for yourself after the year we’ve all had.