Thursday 16 April 2015

Top glass

All too often I visit IKEA. Or to rephrase, to visit IKEA at all is too often. But once in a while you encounter an IKEA product which is well designed, well made and, well, cheap. And here is one such: the Hederlig red wine glass.

This is a lovely, large wineglass, as you might expect in a classy restaurant. As IKEA rightly states in its description, “The glass has a large round bowl which helps the wine’s aromas and flavours to develop better, enhancing your experience of the drink.” It’s big enough to sniff and swirl to your heart’s content, it has a balanced shape, and the glass feels good in both hand and mouth. And… it’s only £1 !

Perhaps there are horrible, exploitative reasons why this glass is so cheap. Perhaps it is shaped around balls stolen from the hands of small children. I don’t think I want to know. What I do know is that I no longer need worry about the cost of breakages, when this lovely, big wineglass costs just £1.

It’s not drinking itself which seems to break wineglasses. I can count on the fingers of a hand the number of times a wineglass has actually fallen from the fingers of a hand. No, it’s the washing up afterwards which sees wineglasses knocked over on the draining board, bashed into the tap, falling into the sink or slipping, detergent-lubricated, on to the floor.

Frankly, at £1 a glass, I no longer care. This is surely the answer to all those fellow wine drinkers whose connoisseurship must be tempered with their cackhandedness.

Whatever you do, don’t confuse it with the other Hederlig red wine glass. Which has a completely different, tapered shape – but the same name. And confusion is easy, not only because it has the same name, but because despite its tapered shape, it has the same description: “a large round bowl which helps the wine’s aromas and flavours to develop better…”etc.

As indeed does the Svalka red wine glass, only half the size (with a modest 30cl bowl) and therefore half the price – yet bizarrely also described as having “a large round bowl”, despite its bowl not being very large at all.

You might even confuse it with the Rattvik red wine glass, with its steeply sloping goblet shape fundamentally different to the others, neither large nor round nor indeed even a bowl… and yet – you guessed it – still described as having “a large round bowl…”

Is that just the default IKEA description of any red wine glass? I don't imagine they similarly describe as “large round tables” items which are actually “small square tables”.

They do have cheaper wine glasses. Forsiktigt is a Paris goblet by any other name, and it’s only unfortunate that of  any other name they chose… Forsiktigt. These are £1.25 for six, just over 20p each which, given the prices of gas and washing-up liquid, means it’s probably economic simply to smash them after use. However, they are Paris goblets, favourite of the hired caterer and the student party, on which my position remains unchanged; too thick and too small to enhance a wine's flavour, too shallow and open to enhance the bouquet, and too mimsy to suggest generosity. A hideous little tennis ball of a glass,

Or at the other end of the IKEA scale, there’s the Stockholm glass. This costs a stonking (by IKEA standards) £4 per glass,  because it “is mouth blown by a skilled craftsperson” (as opposed to someone who has just graduated from bubblegum). Stockholm “has a handmade decor, making each glass unique”. Because, of course, who wants a matching set of glasses?

I’m afraid I cannot recommend many of the other IKEA wine accessories. There is the Vurm  four-bottle wine rack, for the unlikely member of our readership who keeps only four bottles of wine. There is the Vardefull combination foil cutter and corkscrew, suspiciously moderne to those of us wedded to the practicality of the Waiter's Friend. Or the Lonsam carafe which, filled with white wine, would look exactly as if it has just been withdrawn from beneath a patient’s blanket.

But I remain delighted with the Hederlig red wine glass. Which, at the risk of repeating myself, only costs £1.

I am reminded of CJ’s astute observation that in wine writing, the moment you read about something interesting it immediately becomes unobtainable.  But the IKEA website allows you to see how many glasses are in stock; my own local branch had 772, somewhat more than the number of guests I am likely to invite, let alone provide with red wine.

And you will have to visit an IKEA store in order to purchase your wineglasses, as they can’t be purchased online. But visiting IKEA has been made less challenging lately; thanks to their recent diktat that it is forbidden to play hide-and-seek in the stores.  So at least you won’t be startled to open a Pax wardrobe and find someone lurking inside.

Finally, perhaps we should consider whether, given some of the rubbish wines we encounter, we actually want “to develop their aromas and flavours” as opposed to stifling them. Is there perhaps a market for a “bargain wine glass”, which actively suppresses the aromas and flavours of shoddy wine, rendering it more drinkable? Now, that could be a market…


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