A fun and fact-filled history of Wine Glasses through the Ages
courtesy of The
Gurdies Winery in Australia just south of Melbourne.
age saw the Iberians and later the Britons using baked clay goblets
to drink from. The Phoenicians taught the Britons to make a copper
alloy giving rise to the Bronze age, timber and bronze tankards
came into existence. The Romans introduced silver and pottery
goblets characterised by (in the early days of the Roman Empire)
by ornate scroll work of pairs of leaves with buds. The Romans
also produced some lead goblets.
5th century AD saw a shallow cup with a fine stem used by the
upperclasses down to sturdy pottery goblets for the lower classes.
The invading Saxons from the north brought with them not only
fine glassware, gold jewel encrusted goblets but also horns.
These, having no legs, had to be finished in one drink so they
could be laid down. The horns were also used as titles to property,
a legal document in the past.
AD saw horn and silver flagons used, the Church disallowing horn
cups to be used in communion. Wooden tankards were in common use
by the late 900’s and clear glass tumblers appeared in the late
1000’s throughout England.
mid 1300’s had a leather vessel, sewn all round with the
join forming a handle with a separate leather base sewn in and
lined with pitch to make it watertight called a ‘black jack’ in
common use. The ‘black’ came from the lining of the vessel and
the ‘jack’ came from a piece of an archers clothing called a ‘jack
of defence’, a stout leather jacket. Reference can be found to
black jacks as late as the mid 1800’s.
From the middle
1600’s onwards there is no shortage of drinking vessels or names
for drinking vessels, some of the more interesting include:
the middle ages, a small leather cup
wooden mug around 1/4 pint
vessel used by the church
holding several gallons, richly decorated
tall, ornate largely ornamental vessel, eventually only used
on special occasions and stored in a hanaps basket, hence a
or Stirrup Cup—A tankard with a cup shaped lid originating
in Scotland, used to send off guests late at night with a final
brew, the lid keeping the brew safe when the guests departed
cup—vessel with three or more small cups with interlinked
handles and joined through a small hole in the walls, the idea
was to drink from one cup without spilling the contents of the
cup—From the Middle ages, whoever could drink the most for the
longest got to blow the whistle as the ‘last man standing’ to
order more drink.
jug—Jug with many holes around the neck which have to be closed
with fingers and thumbs to make sure you can drink from the
a quart measure from the mid 1600’s with a bulb at one end which
had to be drunk without taking it from ones lips
coffee and tea, mixes of herbs and milk were drunk around the
table from a communal jug shaped like a cow, the tail being
the handle. This later became a communal wine glass passed around.
and ostrich egg cups—both have been made into silver encrusted
in the early 1600’s fashioned in silver to look like a gourd
with the stem being the tree trunk
be sailors, priests, policemen or anyone from famous ceramic
little silver flat bowl with two handles on each side flat with
the top rim. From the Medieval days to taste the contents of
bowls to convince guests that nothing was poisoned.
The finest glass was made from the late 17th century to the
early stages of the 18th century. The most popular form was
a simple goblet with a glass stem.
glass—became common from the 1700’s onwards with each Freemason
lodge having it’s own glassware
two dice sealed into the base, used in old taverns to settle
who pays for the purchases Last drop glass—featured an engraved
man hanging from the yardarm that is not visible till the last
drop is drunk.
There is no
shortage of quality wine glasses. The most famous being Reidel
glasses, specially shaped for each variety to put the wine onto
the correct area of the tongue to taste the best. Finally, there
are ISO wine tasting glasses. ISO stands for International Standards
Organisation. The glasses are made to a particular size, shape
and standard for a specific use. Made from fine colourless crystal,
it's rounded shape and smoothness gives an ideal relationship
between surface area and volume. The tapered bowl allows free
circulation of wine and the funnelling of its vapours.
Gurdies Winery - For
more history, tasting notes, new releases and wine facts visit
the site to sign up for their free newsletter or take their virtual