Picture this: you’re about to hop on a train at Oxenholme station, luggage in one hand, sandwich in the other. It’s a good quality, sourdough sandwich with your favourite filling but, with a train to catch, you didn’t have time to enjoy it at the local cafe you bought it from, so it’s coming with you on your journey. It’s too early for lunch, so you wait until you’re changing trains before eating it on the platform in the cold and grey (it’s November), with trains rushing past. I would bet that that sandwich would taste far better if, instead, you had been able to stay in the Lakes and enjoy it over a cup of coffee and a view. That sandwich would also be tastier eaten from a plate rather than a takeaway bag. In other words, ambience and atmosphere are an important part of enjoying food and drink.
Of course, this is nothing revolutionary. We can all appreciate that good food and drink is much better enjoyed in the warmth of a cafe or restaurant, plated up on gorgeous crockery and served with a smile. We will often buy nice plates or special mugs to enjoy at home, but seem curiously immune to good glassware. At the International Festival of Glass in Stourbridge a couple of years ago, the European glassblower I was with was, rightly, horrified to find that the drinks were served in plastic cups!
To me, a glass with character – perhaps added through texture or colour on the stem – can only enhance the drinking experience. Imagine that bottle of wine you were gifted a few years ago, which sits in the wine rack waiting for a ‘special occasion’. Chances are, when you do come to drink it, the whole experience will be massively enhanced if you’re also able to decant it into your favourite, handblown glasses!
A glass that interacts with the drinker, by touch or by sight, is then able to attract attention to its contents. A handmade glass has a character that is not dull or uniform. It has soul, and that soul gives the drink meaning and pleasure.