Eisch “Breathable” “No- Drip” Decanters and Wine Glasses
What are Eisch Wine Glasses?
These are “breathable” wine decanters and glasses, which have garnered much attention in the international press. Eisch, a glass manufacturer located in the Bavararian Forest, just outside of Munich, Germany, was founded in 1946 by Valentin Eisch.
(Go to www.eisch.de for more information.)
The breathable properties of the glass, created by an oxygenizing treatment after manufacturing, accelerate the aeration of the wine. A wine poured into a breathable glass accelerates the rate of aeration. The original character and structure of the wine are preserved, yet the wine’s aroma and palate impression become more open and generous.
Durability and cleaning
The breathable glasses of the “Superior Sensi Plus” line are produced with the latest pulled stem technology, which means that they are made out of one single part and because of this they are break resistant. The glasses are made from lead-free crystal-glass and they do not require special cleaning requirements. Wash it as you would other quality crystal glass. The glasses are dishwasher proof.
Local wine writer and former Washington Post wine critic, Michael Franz, wrote a review (Wine Review On Line.com) comparing his tasting of various wines, cognac and sake side by side using both their “breathable” and non-breathable glassware. “…all in all I ran 36 separate tests on the same liquid in the two different glasses……and the result was that in 34 of the 36 trials I was able to correctly identify the breathable glass…. I was able to identify which glass was the breathable one because the liquid seemed marginally more expressive to me…. I did prefer the liquid from the breathable glass more times than not, and the better the wine, the more I preferred the breathable glass…. my experience when working with the Eisch “breathable” glasses is that they do have some effect in making wines marginally (but significantly) more expressive…” (To read the full article go to Winereviewonline.com, and look under Michael Franz’s name for the article entitled “Stemware sanity and a Little Magic”).
Due to its high quality in production and design and its innovations Eisch has been voted eleven times number one glass producer by German retailers since 1995.
What We Carry
Superior Sensis Plus Series Glassware:
Red Wine…………20 oz
Grand Burgundy….23 oz
Champagne ………8 oz
–All glassware comes packed 6 to a box, order by the box only–
“No drop effekt” Decanter
“Stemware Sanity and a Little Magic” Michael Franz, Wine Review on Line, October 27th, 2009
I opened a column here on WRO earlier this year with the observation that wine temperature is a crucial factor in wine appreciation, yet one that is insufficiently appreciated by many consumers. I would also argue that the role of glassware is insufficiently appreciated, and know from experience that many consumers would be astonished by how profoundly glasses affect performance if they tried sensory comparisons of the same wine tasted from different glasses
I got started on this whole glass testing thing after reading about a line of purportedly “breathable” glasses made in Germany by Eisch. I performed some informal (but pretty promising) trials with a sample glass while still in the USA, and then headed to Germany on the return trip from a wine judging in Spain.
The original Eisch glassworks is located in Frauenau, in the Bavarian Forest outside of Munich. I wasn’t prepared for this side-trip to take me quite so deep into the hinterlands, but it helped to learn that glassblowers have historically located in forests due to their need for wood to stoke their furnaces. This made sense even to a city boy like me, and this particular hinterland was quite beautiful, so I settled in to learn what I could learn.
Eisch is not an old establishment, having been established only in 1946, though family members worked for others in the business as early as the 17th century. The company remains entirely family owned, and beyond wine glasses and decanters, is well known for art glass. Family member Erwin Eisch was a founder of the studio glass movement along with American Harvey K. Littleton, and he’s still active as an artist and member of the company.
But it was the connection to wine that I was pursuing, and in particular the performance claims being made for Eisch’s so-called “breathable” glasses. I don’t mean to sound snotty when using the words “claims” or “so-called.” There was absolutely no bluster or hard-sell from Eberhard Eisch, who currently directs the firm. On the contrary, he was serenely matter-of-fact in his approach, mouthing none of the claims made in company literature but simply inviting me to “Test the glasses for yourself.”
Which indeed I did, and in a very interesting way. The testing I had done in the USA involved comparisons between an Eisch glass and comparable glasses from other manufacturers. The problem with this is that the glasses are never identical in size or shape. Since both size and shape of vessels are well known to affect the sensory experience of the wines they hold, this is an imperfect way to assess any “breathable” performance aspect of the Eisch glass, since any perceived difference could conceivably result from other variables.
However, the testing I did at Eisch involved pairs of identical glassware with one “breathable” vessel compared to another one that didn’t have this property. The only visible difference was a little squiggle on the base of the stem that is the company icon for the breathable technology, and this was obscured on both glasses by a sticker. In the first few trials, I would shuffle the two glasses after they had been poured, and later in the process I had others do the shuffling for me to assure random placement of the two glasses. There was no way for me to know which glass was which–or at least no way that I was clever enough to conceive.
I performed multiple comparative tastings of different glasses with a Muller-Thurgau, a Pinotage from Swartland in South Africa, and a very nice Maremma IGT from Tuscany. Since the technology is also used by Eisch for other types of glasses, I also tested a sake, a Cognac, and some espresso–of all things. All in all, I ran 36 separate tests on the same liquid in the two different glasses in this way.
The result was that in 34 out of 36 trials I was able to correctly identify the breathable glass.
It is therefore very hard to avoid the conclusion that something real is involved with this technology, though it is not so easy to say rigorously just what is going on. First, I should clarify the result by noting that I did not prefer the liquid out of the breathable glass 34 out of 36 times; rather, I was able to identify which glass was the breathable one because the liquid seemed marginally more expressive to me. I didn’t always like what was being expressed by the breathable glass better, but I did fine marginally more aroma and dimensionality of flavor.
Nevertheless, I did prefer the liquid from the breathable glass more times than not, and the better the wine, the more I preferred the breathable glass. It was easy to pick out the breathable glass when it was holding the delicious 2004 Tuscan wine, as the aromas were notably more open and the flavors both broader (i.e., more complex) and deeper (more intense and penetrating). Similarly, with the Cognac, there was an undertone of orange rind perceptible in the breathable glass that was a total give-away signal, and I think that I could have found the glass dozens of times in a row, had I been interested in running up a streak as a parlor trick.
Two additional caveats should be noted. The first involves a subtle point that I’m still testing. Eisch’s company literature touts the glasses as supplanting the need for decanting as “no longer necessary” because a wine will reach its optimal state “shortly after it is opened,” specifically, “in only 2-4 minutes.” Now, I think it is fair to say that most wine lovers decant young wines to achieve two changes in the wine that are related but not identical, namely, a more openly expressive character on the one hand, and, on the other, a lessening of astringency due to tannin in red wines. These two are related because tannic astringency effectively slams the door on fruit flavors as a taster’s sensation series moves from the “mid-palate” to the “finish” of a wine. In any case, my experience when working with the Eisch “breathable” glasses is that they do have some effect in making wines marginally (but significantly) more expressive, but that they don’t seem to lessen the tannic astringency of red wines notably–or at least not in 2-4 minutes.
Another caveat has to do with glass size and shape, which is an independent variable in glass performance as I noted above. To its credit, Eisch is an innovative company turning out a lot of fresh designs, but some of its glasses wouldn’t suit my preferences regardless of the performance of the breathable technology. For example, in the “Superior” line of breathable glasses, pursuit of consistency of shape results in a very good Bordeaux glass but also a Chardonnay glass that is seriously top-heavy and disconcerting to handle.
The “Bellagio” line is internally dissimilar in shape, but there are still design issues, as the red wine glass is simply too elongated, leaving one’s nose too far from the wine. The white wine glass in this line is much better–but for reds rather than whites. Finally, a new Petite Sirah glass in the Superior line is very attractive, but tapers to an opening so small that I find myself continually jabbing myself below the bridge of my nose when trying–in vain–to get my honker into the glass to smell the contents.
Nevertheless, Eisch also has some excellent designs. The Grand Burgundy glass in the Superior line is a very strong performer, as is the larger Champagne glass in this line. I’ve also tried Eisch’s mouth-blown (non-breathable) glasses, and loved some of them. In the “Jeunesse” line, there’s a small Burgundy glass as well as a much larger “Grand Burgundy” version. The larger is presumably for reds, and it is very effective and also endearingly simple in appearance (even a bit retro, looking like a bowl design from the 1970s).
Nothing I’ve read specifies whether the smaller glass is for whites or reds, but I’ve gotten terrific results when using it with a variety of white wines–not just Chardonnays. Also in this line is a small glass (item number 514/013) designated generically for white wines, and it is probably the best glass I’ve ever tried with Fino or Manzanilla sherry. There’s actually a sherry glass in this same line, but I’ve yet to try it.
Finally, it is worth noting the curious fact that this company–which would seem intent upon rendering decanters superfluous makes ingenious decanters that are often quite beautiful. Two merit special mention. One is a swan-shaped decanter with a tail that flares out to a wide opening that supplants the need for a funnel when filling. At the other end, it has a finely beveled lip that is treated with Eisch’s “No Drop Effekt,” which is amazingly effective at preventing the last bit of wine in a pour from dribbling onto one’s tablecloth.
The other truly amazing item is the “Rapid Cool” cooling decanter. It is handmade and double-walled, with the interior space filled with a mixture of water and anti-freeze. It will cool any wine from room temperature in even less than the 5 minutes claimed in Eisch’s product literature, and is beautifully sleek and simple. Although it is presumably intended for whites predominantly, it would also be very useful for getting red wines that are sitting around at room temperature down into the mid-60s where they belong, and it would be able to do so in just a minute or so.
In closing I should note that–as my testing mania may indicate to you–I am by nature a rationalist rather than a romantic, and a skeptical one at that when seemingly magical effects are in question. I have no idea how or why Eisch’s “breathable” technology would have any effect, and the product literature’s explanation the glasses are treated with “oxygen waves” in an “oxygenizing treatment” is utterly meaningless to me. Nevertheless, the glasses certainly do seem to have an effect, and one that is usually beneficial, so I’m sure I’ll be continuing my mildly-mad experiments into the future.
Read Article on Eisch Decanters and Stemware