option – say, a vessel that didn’t once contain Smucker’s – shows you care. Riedel is the best-known name and offers unparalleled choice. By unparalleled, I mean it not only offers glasses for red and white wine but also for individual grape varieties, whether Pinot Noir, Syrah and Zinfandel or Riesling, Rheingau and Sauvignon Blanc. The company’s basic philosophy is: a) different grape varieties produce different kinds of wines; b) glass shape influences how you smell and taste those wines; thus c) enjoyment is maximized by creating a glass shape specifically for each grape variety. (They arguably take it too far by having one specifically for “mature” Bordeaux.) I’ve seen Riedel everywhere from Wal-Mart to The Wine Gallery in Taikoo Li North, with the latter having the best selection. Note: mouth-blown glasses are much more expensive than machine-made ones. Beijing also has plenty of household goods stores and markets for those with time to shop. While it might not rule in terms of quantity, I Iike Laitai Flower Market. It has a half-dozen shops split between the knick knack-filled basement and the main floor that houses the flower section. This makes Laitai a convenient place to not only grab a half-dozen glasses but also to tick that two-meter-high bronze antelope head, lacquered tree root fashioned into a tea table, and lemon tree fully loaded with ripe fruit off your shopping list. (Need a live parakeet for that tree? They sell them a few meters away.) The small glass shop in the far left corner just inside the entrance is a good starting point. It has a decent selection of generic glasses from RMB 15 (pre-bargain) along with kitschy options featuring gold bands, solid black bowls, or shiny stars that might excite a dual Harry Potter and wine fan. You can also find pricier ware, with glasses at RMB 100 or more each, or sold in sets with decanters and elaborate stands. Expect every salesperson to ping each glass in an apparent belief that hearing a bell-like ring will have a kind of Pavlovian effect and make you pay full price. Finally, you might want to package your bottle in something special. You can find traditional qipao-style cloth covers, decorative glossy paper bags and more in Beijing. One fun option is the sturdy cases sold at The Loop. These range from a single-bottle metallic case that looks like a Mission Impossible prop to a six-bottle, faux-leather carrier that says class – in a faux-leather sort of way. You could even mix things up with that last one. With those six slots in the case, you could insert a pair of bottles and four moderately sized glasses, and thus giving someone the gift of a mobile wine party.
Published on Nov 22, 2013