On Broken Wine Glasses

One of the best pieces of advice regarding wine glasses I heard from Jancis Robinson. “Only buy wine glasses you can afford to break.” 



Listen to the woman.

Why? Because they will break. They do. No matter how careful you are, accidents happen. Dishes shift around in the dishwasher or we move quickly and clumsily while washing up. We grip the stem and twist to dry with too much vigor. You kick one over during your evening by the fire pit, you reach right through one in the early morning, you knock it to the floor during an exciting outburst during game night . . . . These things happen!

And you know what?

It’s ok.

I like to think of myself as a careful and intentional person. I like to have nice things, and I like to take good care of said nice things. I treat my items as if they are new for far longer than is probably reasonable or socially acceptable. But it’s because I want them to last.

Not that such ideals can never apply to wine glasses; I’m not saying we should toss them about or be careless. On the contrary, I am saying that we need to loosen up a little. Lighten up your stress load, and simply decide not to purchase expensive glasses.

So I am saying not to spend a fortune. But here’s what I’m not saying: I’m not saying to get “cheap” glasses. Inexpensive and “cheap” are not synonyms. Inexpensive has to do with price, “cheap” with quality.

My husband and I just found a lovely set of six crystal glasses for only $12.99—the opening is just large enough for a proper smell, with a bowl large and slanted enough for a good swirl, but not obnoxiously large. They are sturdy enough not to be broken by a feather, but thin enough for the elegance wine calls for (especially on the rim—please be picky about the thickness of your rim, if you can be). Though we might ask for some nicer, taller ones for Christmas (still in the price range we would feel comfortable replacing), this set that cost us less than two and a quarter apiece will be a terrific go-to for fireside sips and other outdoor frivolity. Having things that we are ok with breaking frees us up to enjoy the moment, remaining open to the experiences before us rather than being concerned about the “what-ifs” concerning our prized possessions.

Moving from the practical and pragmatic to a note on character and mindset: be present. If owning expensive wine glasses is going to make you more concerned about how your guests are holding, swirling, or ignoring their glass more than you are paying attention to and engaging in conversation, then forget it. The point is to connect over a beautiful beverage and captivating conversation, not to micromanage or worry the evening away.

Things break. It happens. And when they do, let the stress roll off. Clean things up quickly and safely, and then get back to your good time. Don’t cry over spilled wine (or broken glass). Grab another one, pour some more, and get back to now.

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