A Pain in the Glass


By Terry Sweeney


It was bound to happen one day. I knew the dark secret I kept carefully hidden inside my oh-so-innocent-looking kitchen cabinets would one day rear its ugly mug, or more appropriately, raise its stemmed glass freak flag for the whole world to see.

OK I admit that sounds a tad melodramatic but I am still recovering from that Day Of Shame!

A Napa valley winemaker and all around hoity-toity viticultural highbrow called to tell me she was in town. Since she had never been to my house, I invited her to have wine and cheese on my porch later that afternoon. Quickly I put together a small party of local wine aficionados, went shopping for three bottles of a fabulous French white Burgundy (a 2004 Louis Jadot Chapelle Aux Loups) and carefully chose several baguettes and a lovely wheel of Petit Basque to accompany them. Everything was perfect … or so I thought; till I opened the cabinets to set out my wine glasses. (cue sound effect: High Pitched Scream) Not one of them matched!!! (Years of drunkenly smashing them, kicking them, elbowing them and dropping them to their deaths had taken its toll!)

A tall, short, big bowled, and high-and-low stemmed gang of stemware reprobates stared back at me. Apparently they were still bitter at my having massacred all of their mates and finally they were to have their revenge.

I slammed the door in the accusing faces of this glass menagerie and desperately tore open another cabinet. Aha! More glasses! I’m saved! Quite quickly I realized I spoke too soon. The first odd-shaped glass I spied was inscribed with the words “We’ll miss you Sid” (had he died or retired?! I couldn’t remember) Another was a short stout glass that was actually a brandy snifter and doubled as a vase on occasion. I imagined my soon-to-arrive California wine expert nick naming me “Brandy Winewriter” to gales of derisive laughter from her fellow Napa Valley wine snoots. The next glass I pulled out had a red bowl with a fake gold rim, a green stem and a blue base. Good God! I’d gladly return that one to its owners but I swear I don’t know anyone that tacky … Do I?

Out came further waves of embossed stemware promoting things like The Hilton Head Wine Festival, Charleston Food and Wine Festival, The Savannah Wine Expo, etc. Apparently, if I keep attending wine festivals for the next 20 years, one day I’ll have a lovely set of mismatched festival ware that is sure to dazzle anyone who may drive past my yard sale.

Finally I found my one good wine glass. Yes! I’ll give her this one. But I better wash off the faded lipstick stain on it first — gross!! I got it off all right with lots of soap and elbow grease. So much soap in fact that the glass slipped through my wet fingers and landed in the sink shattering into a million tiny pieces.

What did I do next, you ask? I called her up and told her the “truth” of course — that I’d totally forgotten I’d had a kitchen fire the night before that wrecked all of my wine glasses. “They were so beautiful” I sighed, “Each one was one of a kind. Let’s meet at a bar.”

Whew! She bought it. But still, this is no way to live. I’ve got to get a grip on my wineglass breakathon otherwise I can never have nice wine glasses again. I’ll be stuck with this bunch of clunkers forever, or worse, be doomed to one day drink my wine out of empty Hannah Montana jelly jars.

The real irony is I’m actually a wine glass elitist. If someone hands me a glass of wine and it’s in a blue or green colored glass, I have to force myself to keep from spitting it out and hurling the empty glass out of the nearest open window.

A Happy Wino friend of mine says her pet peeve are thick glasses. “I hate the heavy Bavarian cut crystal ones my mother-in-law has. I chipped a tooth on one of those monsters last Thanksgiving.”

Yet I’m not as big a wine glass snob as some. An uppity French wine expert once confided to me that he was such a purist, that soap had never touched his wine glasses. “It alters the flavor of the wine,” he sniffed arrogantly (which of course confirmed my deepest suspicions — those filthy, filthy, French!) I think I better bring my own glass from home if I ever decide to visit his Chateau des Germs.

And, yes, I know this is so petty, but I secretly envy people who own the full spectrum of Riedel wine glasses. It’s just the pure unadulterated green-eyed monster that grabs hold of me and I should be ashamed. Yet, instead, whenever I meet one of those lucky Riedel Richy Riches I am tempted to say just casually in passing, “Did you know Riedel was the Fuhrer’s favorite? He made it the official glass of the Nazi party. What? You didn’t know?!” (Of course it’s a total lie.)

What a stinker, you are thinking. And you’re right. I get out my “We’ll miss you Sid” memorial wine goblet and console myself with the fact that, in truth, it’s the wine that counts, not the glass. I must be growing up. I lift my glass in a toast — Here’s looking at you, Sid!


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