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May 1, 2020

Best Idea in Recent Memory: Roberto Conterno's Sensory Wine Glass, with a Major Charitable Contribution Included

I’ve tasted with hundreds of different glasses over the course of 25+ years as a wine reviewer, so a new glass needs to be truly remarkable to stand out in a crowd of that size.  Glasses are really the only tool of any consequence in my business, as anything can serve as a spittoon, just as corks can be removed using a shoe or a tree trunk—as you can learn on YouTube from people who clearly have too much time on their hands!

In brief, I really care about wine glasses, and buy them all the time…use them all the time…break them all the time…and replace them constantly with new and different ones.  Having heard some buzz among my colleagues about a glass designed by Roberto Conterno (of the extraordinary Giacomo Conterno winery in Barolo, along with his engineer son, Gabrielle), I bought one for a test drive.

The verdict?  This glass is just fabulous for tasting Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo-based wines from Piedmont, and Syrah-based wines from the northern Rhône.  Better even than the somewhat similar Burgundy glass from Zalto, which I formerly thought could never be surpassed.

The Conterno Sensory Glass may also prove to be a star with other types of wines as I branch out, but it is so strong with Pinot, Nebbiolo and cool-climate Syrah that I had already resolved to write about it…when two other factors arose to spur me to do so right now.

First, when I went back to buy more of the glasses from The Rare Wine Company in California, I learned that they had dropped the price from $90 to $75, and then offered to donate $25 of the lowered price to more than a dozen recently established local organizations—your choice—that are keeping restaurant workers employed to prepare meals for nurses and doctors in hospitals across the USA.

Let that sink in for a second, and then you’ll understand why I entitled this posting, “Best Idea in Recent Memory….”

Second, the idea is even better at this particular moment for those of us living under stay-at-home orders.  We can’t have dinner parties, so we don’t need to buy glasses in large numbers.  We aren’t cleaning up after dinner parties, so our breakage rate is way down.  We limit our trips to wine shops to minimize the odds of contamination, so we’re drinking some of the best wines we’ve laid down in years past.  Cracking into wines we’ve been treasuring is a great way to lift our spirits.  And those wines deserve to blossom in a great glass, making this a five-fold reason to pony up for a few of these marvelous vessels to enjoy at home with your fellow house-hostages.

Of course, I’m aware that $75 is a lot of money for a wine glass by almost anyone’s standards, so if that price is simply too steep for you, just write to me (at michael@franzwine.com) for recommendations of some more affordable glasses that might still upgrade what you’re drinking from during this quarantine period.

But if you can afford to try a few of these, you’ll hit three birds with your expenditure by A) learning how much a great glass can enhance the wines you love; B) helping employ sidelined restaurant workers, and C) getting meals to front-line health care heroes.  If you can afford to buy a dozen glasses, The Rare Wine Company will throw in free shipping while also donating $300 to the cause of your choosing. 

This idea has caught on so effectively that the glasses are currently on backorder, but I called the company this week, and they’ll have more glasses in next month.  You can view the offer, learn more about the glass, place an order, and choose a charitable organization by simply clicking on the link below or pasting it into your URL line:


If you have trouble with those options, just keyword search the RWC site, type “Conterno” in the search window, and scroll down to the bottom entry…and you’ll be a click away from learning about the glass and the many charities to which the donations can be targeted. 

When your glasses arrive next month, clink them (gently!) to toast our friends in restaurants and our benefactors in hospitals.
Posted by Michael Franz at 2:22 PM