Why Zalto glassware is a cut aboveUltra thin and elegant, but also unexpectedly tough, Zalto glassware delivers a superlative drinking experience says Victoria Moore
My book editor is very sweet-natured but came close to a glare as we dashed for a tube after a meeting that had over-run and I disgracefully failed to jam myself between the closing double-doors.
“Zalto,” I muttered apologetically, raising a tatty carrier bag that would have become a temporary door wedge if I’d forced my way on to the tube.
“Zalto!” I repeated again, waving the bag when she failed to look impressed.
After years of drinking from them in restaurants and at friends’ houses, I finally cleared space in my glass cupboards (yes, by throwing away glasses – the ones that break are never the ones you want to break) and had just picked up six beautiful Zalto Universals. I was not about to risk a set of tube doors closing on £180 worth of almost impossibly light, lead-free crystal handcrafted in Austria.
I like the way wine tastes out of Zalto but it’s really the way these glasses feel in your hand that makes them so seductive. The glass is hand-blown, extremely fine, and so light that when you pick up other glasses after holding one, they feel uncomfortably clumsy.
In his book The Perfect Meal Oxford psychologist Charles Spence explains how input from our other senses – vision, audition and the somatosensory system (which covers touch, pain, temperature and movement) – can impact on our perception of taste and smell. For instance, tasters with a soft, fresh bread-roll in their hands rate half-stale bread they are eating as being fresher than tasters holding a hard roll. Heavy cutlery increases perceptions of quality.
And light glass? I think you would have to say it depended on what glasses you were using and to the best of my knowledge no-one has yet conducted an experiment using Zalto.
Zalto are beautiful to look at and they feel finessed, which has the effect of refining the whole drinking experience. They feel so thin as to be dangerously fragile, but the glass and wine accessories guru Daniel Primack likes to prove Zalto are unexpectedly tough by dropping them on the floor – to a Mexican wince from onlookers – and watching them bounce. Not an experiment I shall be repeating at home.
The first wine poured into my Zaltos, over dinner with a visiting Australian winemaker, was a Penfolds Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 707 from 1990. The second was a 2004 Trevallon. I was really glad I had bought them.
Zalto Universals cost around £30 and are available from EuroCave and The Winemakers Club