Revered worldwide, Murano glassware is created only in the Venetian isle of Murano by experienced artisans steeped in the centuries old traditions of the finest glass making. Murano, known as the glass island, dates back to the thirteenth century as the center for the creation of Venetian glass and houses the Museo del Vetro which pays homage to the history of glass. Masterful techniques were honed to perfection by the craftsmen of Murano and even today glass ateliers there have an esteemed international reputation with individual names such as Salviato, Berengo Studio, Venini, Pino Signoretto and FerroMerano standing out as worthy of attention.
Modern artisans follow in the footsteps of ancient glass makers, creating remarkable hand blown glass pieces that run the gamut from ornamental pieces and sculptures through drinking goblets, chandeliers, jewelry and perfume bottles. If you are lucky enough to visit Venice you may purchase a piece of Murano glass directly from one of the glass factories or galleries located in the area of Fondamenta dei Vetrai. The Mazzega factory and the Linea Murano Art Gallery are just two of the many sites offering visitors the chance to see demonstrations of glass making in addition to making authentic purchases.
If you are buying outside the Italian locale you will want to ensure the piece you are purchasing is indeed authentic rather than Murano style and the best way to ensure this is to look for the certificate of Vetro Artistico Murano with its distinctive blue and red markings. Even in Murano you should take care to ensure a certificate of authenticity is offered as counterfeit glass may be sold in souvenir shops. The Murano trademark limits the production of Murano glasswork to the Venetian isle in a more modern way than in centuries past. When Murano first emerged as the leading center of glasswork its skilled artisans were prevented from leaving and spilling their trade secrets.
In 1295 a law was passed preventing glass makers from leaving the city, though certain societal privileges were bestowed upon them in recompense. The isolation of the glassmakers paid a significant part in the successful growth of the Murano glass industry and ensured a Venetian glass monopoly of manufacturing excellence.
The fortunes of Murano have ebbed and flowed through the years but modern Murano artists have revived the art of glassware by reverting to traditional techniques such as murrino, filigree and lattimo, while incorporating modern innovative styles with artistic appeal. Their enthusiasm for the craft combined with their creation of beautiful objects has ensured the international reputation of Murano glassware remains exalted.
Preparing for a wedding requires paying attention to a lot of details. Besides the big issues, like searching for dresses for weddings and picking out your bridesmaids, little details can get by you. Such as choosing the correct glasses for the traditional champagne toast to the new bride and groom.
The sparkling appeal of champagne has captivated the attention of aristocrats and celebratory drinkers since Dom Perignon accidentally created it. This finest of effervescent wines has always been associated with its own champagne glassware and it is only at the turn of this century that champagne connoisseurs have begun to question the prevalent use of champagne coupes and flutes and started to voice their preference for drinking champagne from wine glasses.
The champagne flute and the champagne coupe have always vied for attention with each standing out for their distinctive attributes. The flute precedes the coupe in its invention and has always been preferred as the vessel that retains the bubbles for longer. It is a tall narrow glass with a longer stem than a coupe and many feature a roughened bead at the base of the glass where the bubbles gather. In contrast the coupe is a shallow saucer like glass with a shorter stem, more prone to easy spillage.
The flute has earlier origins than the coupe and many stunning examples were created in the sixteenth century by the glassmakers of Murano and featured stained glass.
The champagne saucer was designed by Venetian glassmakers in England in 1663 and quickly became popular among the English aristocracy. It has retained its appeal during certain eras though wine experts have always maintained the superiority of the flute as the ideal vessel for this liquid nectar.
The flute is considered superior as it allows the aroma to concentrate and the bubbles to rise. The bubbles more quickly dissipate in the coupe and the wine loses its chill. The flute has an aesthetic appeal as it showcases the visual aspect of the bubbles rising and helps the fizz to retain its fizz for longer.
In the early part of the twentieth century the tulip shaped champagne flute with a wider lip originated and has become standard. The coupe has stood the test of time as the champagne glass most associated with extravagant celebrations and is the must have glass at celebrations that feature champagne towers.
As champagne makers experiment with ever bolder flavors wine experts have expressed their opinions that neither the coupe nor the flute does full justice to the aroma and flavors of champagne. While these two styles of glassware are still suited to less expensive effervescent wines, tasters and connoisseurs are increasingly choosing to drink their champagne from tulip wine glasses as this more modern option enhances the champagne taste experience. Even while champagne experts turn to wine glasses as their preferred vessel it is unlikely that the popularity of the coupe and flute will lose their appeal as they are so closely associated with the history of toasts and celebration.
A fine brandy or cognac is a refined delight to be savored. Cognac conjures images of fireside gatherings where fine appreciation of the aromatic liquor is appreciated in elegant surroundings. It has been enjoyed for more than four centuries by such notable figures as Napoleon Bonaparte and Winston Churchill.
Brandy has always been associated with its own distinctive glassware, from square crystal glass decanters to tulip glasses and balloon snifters. Unlike a fine wine which may require decanting to remove residual sediment there is no reason to decant brandy beyond the aesthetic appeal of its enhanced presentation and as a personal preference to pouring the brandy directly from the bottle. Brandy decanters tend to be square only because of tradition but the liquor can be decanted into any shape of glassware.
Modern decanters experiment with different shapes and the ship decanter has become a popular alternative. Brandy decanters exist simply to display the contents with a visual appeal and any shape will suffice providing the decanter has a secure stopper to prevent evaporation. Decanters can be used to conceal the fact that the contents are an inexpensive choice when the host is seeking to impress.
Traditionally brandy decanters were fashioned from lead crystal glass which was heavy and refractive. While vintage lead crystal decanters may look amazing there is a risk of the lead seeping into the contents so they should be used with caution, perhaps by decanting only enough to be drunk on one occasion rather than for storage. A safer choice is a lead free glass decanter which is lighter and less refractive yet still serves the purpose of displaying the contents in a sophisticated manner. Decanters make great gifts for gentlemen and are a popular choice to be engraved to mark special occasions such as retirements and birthdays.
Cognac drinkers are split over the merits of drinking this fine beverage from tulip or snifter glasses. The ultimate cognac connoisseurs and the most acclaimed sommeliers lean towards the tulip as their ultimate choice of glassware. Balloon snifters have a larger bowl and a shorter stem and experts believe the aroma and flavor of the liquor is more concentrated in a tulip glass than in a snifter, though there is a great appeal in holding the latter. The Vinum Hennessy tulip cognac glass is considered one of the best, while the snifter most appreciated by experts is the Schott Zwiesel pure cognac glass. Both the tulip and the snifter would be perfectly in place in any home where the art of brandy drinking is appreciated and a fine crystal decanter is on display.