Object of Desire: Zalto Wine Glasses
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Zalto Denk'Art Bordeaux Wine Glass
Squat goblets with thick rims and fat stems once defined the American wine glass. Ubiquitous in red sauce joints and antiquated white tablecloth restaurants, stemware since has come a long way. Today, the gold standard is made by Austrian company Zalto.
The key to the brand’s design success? Paper thin bowls so delicate they meld with the wine becoming barely perceptible. In other words, there’s virtually no barrier between the consumer and an ethereal white Burgundy. The stem is equally feather light and svelte, evocative of a poised crane or heron balancing on one leg. However, fragility is only in appearance. Zalto markets their glassware as mouth-blown, lead-free dishwasher-safe wine glasses.
Zalto glassware has been on the market for around ten years, though production methods reach back to the 1400s. The Zalto family has six generations of experience in glass production, working out of Lower Austria’s wine region Neunagelberg. Local priest Father Denk, regarded for his wine expertise, was approached in 2003 by Kurt Zalto about a collaboration. Consequently, a new line of high-end wine glasses called Zalto Denk`Art was born.
According to the manufacturer, “development of the Denk`Art series was as influenced by the earth as by the universe beyond. The curve of the bowls are [sic] tilted at the angles of 24°, 48° and 72°, which are in accordance to the tilt angles of the Earth. The ancient Romans utilized this triumvirate of angles with their supply repositories, finding that produce stayed fresh for a longer time, and that it also showed improved taste.”
Initially, the brand courted the local wine industry with the stemware. In 2005, California’s Winemonger Imports company discovered the glasses while visiting Austrian wineries. Falling in love with the elegant yet sturdy design, they brought the glassware to the U.S. market.
Zalto Denk'Art Champagne
Notable sommeliers and restaurateurs started to incorporate the brand in their establishments. In 2012, Saison in San Francisco swapped their old stemware with Zalto. On the East Coast, sommelier Robert Bohr of Charlie Bird in New York’s Soho, adopted Zalto as the restaurant’s exclusive glass. Zalto tapped Aldo Sohm, an award-winning Austrian sommelier and the founder of Sohm Wine Bar in New York City, as a brand ambassador.
With notable sommeliers setting the trend, Zalto’s popularity has continued to rise, evidenced by the growing number of fine dining establishments that use the brand exclusively. Industry-wide, those who use Zalto claim it focuses and enhances the aromatics and flavors of a wine unlike any other glass on the market. Indeed, competitor Riedel feels clunky in the hand compared to Zalto, despite its reputation as one of the first to push region-specific shapes.
Zalto Decanter Axium
Like Riedel, Zalto makes glassware suited for different wines and beverages, though the “Universal,” starting at $59 per stem, is perfect for those who drink a range of whites and reds and those short on space. Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagnedrinkers may prefer to buy glasses specifically designed to focus the nose of those wines. There are also versions for beer and water plus decanters, carafes and even stylish spittoons, allowing professionals who must spit to do so in style.
Produced as one seamless piece from the stem to the rim, Zalto is a drinking vessel with unparalleled synergy of form and function. Once you drink wine from a weightless Zalto, every wine glass will feel as clunky as a mason jar.