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Glass Half Empty, Glass Half Full

glass41Back when I was first starting to appreciate the wonderful offering of the world of wine, I bought myself some real, big wine glasses.  These giant transparent bowls resting gracefully on lengthy, slender stems welcomed me into the inner circle of wine appreciation.  I was there.  I was one of the few.  I knew what I was talking about.

In actuality, I knew almost nothing about wine and was seldom able to temper my enthusiasm with enough wisdom to keep those enormous goblets filled to a reasonable level.  I remember so vividly my friend B. Saying ‘wow that is one big glass of wine’ as I handed him one of those new symbols of my evolution as a wine aficionado.  Not much else from that particular evening sticks in my memory for some reason…

It gives the whole ‘glass half empty’ metaphor a different spin: in some cases, you don’t want too much in your glass.  Wine lovers know this, even if the rest of the world rushes up to the rim in a vain attempt to get the most from life. (After all, if it isn’t wine in the glass, who cares how much there is?)

Form and Function

These days, I often use tumblers and other short, stem-less glasses for drinking wine; even for the good stuff.  Perhaps it’s the recollection of my first forays into advanced stemware that make me favour these simpler forms – who knows?  That’s not to say that our cupboard doesn’t house a few delightfully, deeply rounded glasses – I enjoy them on certain occasions – just that the pomp isn’t needed for all circumstances.  The little tasting glasses that have followed us home from a myriad of wine events do the trick, often as not.

Yet, I know that hundreds – no, thousands – of laborious hours of creative exertion lie behind the designs of the world’s finest wine glasses.  I admire the dedication and passion.  I admire the pursuit of a perfect marriage of form and function – one that pairs each style of wine with a vessel whose only purpose is to enhance that elixir’s particular virtues.  And yet, for me, there’s just too much subjectivity in the mix for these glasses to hit their exalted mark.  It you’re charmed by it, if it enhances your experience, go for it.  It’s the little tumblers that charm me, mostly.  Isn’t that the point?

But, as crass as it may seem to drink a wonderfully aged, full-bodied red from a tumbler, I don’t take it too far.  I don’t fill the thing to the brim.  I pause with my nose below the rim, savouring the moment of anticipation before all of the aromatic promise passes my lips.


It took me a while to learn just how little to serve in those luxurious glasses; and even longer to allow myself to go back to the tumblers that I’ve always adored.  Sometimes, we just have to go with what works for us.  We have to re-evaluate.

Recently, life circumstances have forced my wife, Katie, and I to re-evaluate a number of things.  Despite our passion for life in Spain, we’ve returned to Canada; for how long, we really don’t know.  It’s a swirling blend of circumstances that have carried us here; complicated and unforeseen.  A bad season, a bad year.

And so my thoughts often come to rest on the ‘glass half empty, glass half full’ perspective these days.  And I tell myself that this gloriously rich experience of life is never so simple.  No two opinions about it match; no two samples of the same experience coincide: isn’t it just like wine?  Aren’t we all pursuing our own personal passions within the much greater context of the common reality?  Just how full should my glass be?  If it’s the right glass, filled with the right vintage of the right wine, even a few drops will do.

So I would like to raise my little tumbler to all of you out there in hopes that you will join me in a simple and sincere toast: Farewell, and may your glass be always as full as you wish it to be.

Thanks for reading.


Ivan Larcombe

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