Cathy Gowdie

"There?s still a place for stemless glasses, especially in the holiday season."
'There's still a place for stemless glasses, especially in the holiday season.'

So, stemless wine glasses. What's the deal?

The deal ain't what it was in 2004, when Austrian uber-glassmaker Riedel introduced a new range of tumblers. It was called the ''O'' series, and vinous fashion victims everywhere, your correspondent included, formed their mouths into a matching O-shape of wonderment.

It's not as if we had never drunk wine from tumblers before, but unlike the bomb-proof Duralex glasses that are natural partners for rough red, these were fine and elegant. They came in shapes designed for everything from chardonnay to shiraz and with the whole Riedel spiel about the importance of matching the glass to the wine.

They were as chic as a cashmere shrug and we rushed to buy them by the squillion. As well as carrying the cachet of their maker, they were significantly cheaper than the Vinum stemmed series on which the bowl designs were based.

Nearly 10 years down the track, the shrug has been consigned to the charity bin of fashion history, and stemless wine glasses, from multiple makers, are more ubiquitous than cutting-edge. They are available at a huge range of price points and sold almost everywhere, Kmart included.

Some may suggest this takes the stemless glass into shark-jump territory, and it's true that in some regards they fall short of a classic stemmed glass. Larger, more bulbous examples can be hard to hold if your hands are small. When you hold a glass of white wine by the bowl, it can warm up more rapidly than if you were holding a stem. This can be irritating at a stand-up do. Finger food is not your friend - greasy prints don't show up on stems, but leave unlovely smears all over bowls.

These are quibbles and I'd argue there's still a place for stemless glasses, especially in the holiday season, for two good reasons. One is the relative difficulty of knocking them over when using hand gestures to help impart the matchless insights that arrive part-way through the second bottle. The other is the fact that you can easily pack a party's worth into the dishwasher.