The particular delicate ting of fine crystal stemware is as much a part of the enjoying fine wine as is the satisfying plop of a cork becoming extracted. If you’ve ever sipped out of a fine crystal wine glass, you understand it’s different from a plastic mug, or even a glass goblet. But why? Is it just perception, or can there be really a discernible difference?
First, a few definitions are in order. Merriam-Webster identifies glass as “any of various amorphous materials formed from a melt by cooling to rigidity without crystallization, ” and goes on to specify “an usually transparent or translucent materials consisting typically of a mixture of silicates. ”
Merriam-Webster defines crystal as “a clear colorless glass of superior quality; also objects or ware of such glass. ”
So as the term relates to stemware and consuming glasses, we are generally talking about a transparent material made from a mixture of silicates. The most common type of glass is soda-lime glass, composed of about 75% silica. Interestingly, when lightning strikes sand, “fulgurites” can form, which is glass that is an impression of the lightning strike.
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Identifying the difference between crystal and glass is not exact. All crystal is usually glass, but not all glass will be crystal. There are no universal rules that define crystal, and different countries make use of different standards for defining crystal. Nevertheless, the lead content of cup is the main determinant in the classification of something as either glass or crystal. The amount of lead that defines crystal varies amongst nations.
In the European community, glass with 4 to 10 percent lead monoxide is designated glass. Glass with a lead content of 8 in order to 10 percent is called lead glass. Cup goods with a lead content of between 10 percent and 30 percent gain the designation of crystal. Items containing more than 30% lead monoxide are called lead or leaded crystal. In the United States, a lead monoxide articles of 1 percent is sufficient for cup to be designated as crystal.
So as you can see, the meaning of crystal compared to glass changes according to the country, even though presence of lead is an identifying characteristic.
Why is lead important? The presence of lead softens the glass, thus making it more easily cut and etched. Lead also increases the weight of the glass and causes the glass to diffract light. So glass is generally lighter in weight in crystal, plus light will not diffract through glass.
The problem with leaded crystal, nevertheless , is that lead can leach out of the glass, especially glasses that often are used to contain wine or lead crystal decanters that store wine. Contact with lead can increase the risk associated with heart attack and stroke and can cause memory loss.
Today, unleaded crystal glasses are offered by most main glass and crystal manufacturers. Lead-free crystal is not simply glass. Ba (symbol) carbonate and zinc and titanium oxides replace lead oxide. This particular results in glasses with similar attributes as lead crystal, such as heat range control and the ability to accentuate aroma and flavors of wine. Lead-free crystal has a similar refractive index to lead crystal, but is definitely lighter.
Yes, wine glasses can actually make a big difference in how wines tastes. If you’re drinking an everyday wines, such as your favorite mid-range Pinot gris or Merlot, you can use your everyday eyeglasses because your glass choice won’t make that much difference. But if you’re fortunate enough to be drinking a 2005 Pomerol from Bordeaux, you want to pay the most attention to the glass you choose. You want the proper size, shape and material to really appreciate such a fine — and expensive – wine.
It is still under debate if the a result of stemware material on how wine tastes is a matter of aesthetics or even perception, or if there is a chemical reaction between wine and crystal. 1 theory is that crystal is rougher than glass and this roughness creates turbulence in the wine which, consequently, causes more aeration of the wine, and therefore more aromatic compounds are released.
Although the highest quality crystal eyeglasses provide a better wine tasting experience, the high cost of these glasses stops many from purchasing them. They are also very fragile, so you will have a higher replacement cost. Fortunately, good-quality wine glasses are available at reasonable prices – including crystal stemware. You have to determine, based on how much you spend on wine and exactly how much of a hobby it is for you, if you need to pay for crystal wine glasses. Standard wine glasses cost around $50 a dozen, crystal wine glasses probably $75 a dozen. The best crystal glasses, however , can fetch between fifty dollars and $100 PER GLASS.
Further than the material itself, thicker cup can still create distortions which have an effect on what you see. The thinner the particular glass, the less between you and your own wine, and thinner glass makes a finer stream of wine. Which means that more air is mixing using the wine – here we make reference to aeration again – so that more aroma and flavor molecules are usually released.