The first time I held a Zalto glass (at the restaurant Charlie Bird in New York City), I was almost certain that I would break it. The stem felt as thin a toothpick, and the weight was almost negligible. It was as if the glass were made out of sugar, like a delicate sculpture you’d throw on a cake. I want to say that it left a great impression on me - but mostly, it left an impression on my hand. There’s nothing like holding a Zalto glass.
A year or two later, I found myself working at a restaurant that had recently been voted No. 17 in the world. This remains the only place where I’ve tried a California cab from the 1950s and a Dom Perignon rosé from the 1960s, and, if you’ll allow it, I do mean that as a flex. This restaurant is also the only place where I’ve accidentally smashed a whole shelf of Zaltos. It was a mortifying experience.
For some perspective, a single Zalto costs around $60. That might seem like a lot to pay for one wine glass, and that’s because it is. But that hasn’t stopped us - and a good number of restaurants - from investing in some Zaltos. To help you make your own informed decision, here’s a quick rundown on what makes this pricey, ethereal glassware so prized among people who love wine.
What's Zalto Exactly?
Zalto is an Austrian company, and their signature glasses have been making the rounds in the U.S. since 2005. They make six different wine glasses in their Denk’Art series - but when I use the term ‘Zalto glass,’ you can assume that I’m referring to their widely popular, all-purpose Universal Glass. Like the rest of their glassware, it’s mouth-blown, made of crystal, and has the rounded yet angular profile of a top-shelf Ferrari. Those angles were inspired by the tilt of the earth, a detail which Zalto describes in terms of “cosmic parallels.” Add all of that up, and it begins to make sense why Zaltos are so pricey.
Is A Zalto Glass Worth It?
That’s an interesting question, although I’m not sure you phrased it right. The ultimate “worth” of this glass is going to vary from individual to individual, depending on how much of your soul you’ve portioned out to Bacchus. It’s more useful to ask: Should this wine glass cost $60? And my answer is, unequivocally, yes.
If you enjoy wine to the extent that you’ve publicly sniffed and swirled the stuff, and you’re open to spending a thick stack of singles on a glass that can single-handedly elevate anything you’re drinking, I strongly encourage you to go the Zalto route. Or, if you know anyone who occasionally uses the word “cellar” as a verb, you should know that these glasses make excellent gifts.
At the risk of sounding like a 19th-century transcendental poet, I’d argue that Zalto glasses help you approach an unattainable ideal. At around 110 grams (roughly the same as a can of tuna), a Zalto glass weighs between two to three times less than most other wine glasses - which is to say it barely exists. Flick your wrist the slightest bit, and the wine in your glass folds over in an aerating maneuver. Lift your Zalto to your mouth, and you might forget you’re holding anything at all. The experience is, arguably, spiritual.
How Do You Care For A Zalto?
Despite the aura of fragility they give off, Zalto glasses are stronger than you think. Still, you could easily snap one in half if you decided that would be a fun thing to do - so take care when washing.
Believe it or not, the safest way to wash a Zalto is in the dishwasher. And that’s because hand-washing usually involves more force applied to glass. So stick your Zalto securely in your dishwasher (in a spot where it can avoid contact with other dishes or glasses), or if you don’t have a dishwasher, go ahead and wash by hand. Just be gentle.
Immediately after washing, I also like to polish my Zaltos (and any other wine glasses, really) with a clean dish towel - although this obviously adds another degree of risk to the cleaning process. It’s worth it, however, because no one likes a streaky wine glass. Just be sure to hold your glass by the bowl, rather than the impossibly delicate stem.
As for storage, just throw your glasses upright in any sort of cupboard. (Even if you have a fancy rack for your glasses, I’d avoid hanging a Zalto, because that’ll add stress to the joints.)
Ready To Get A Zalto?
If so, you’ve made a wise choice. As I mentioned before, the best place to start is with a few of their Universal Glasses - but when you’re ready for the next level, their ultrawide Burgundy Glass is also incredibly satisfying to drink from (and stick your whole nose inside of). There’s no wrong choice in their entire lineup, because, at the end of the day, each Zalto glass is a functional work of art. Just do your best not to break them. It doesn’t feel great.
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