New glass will revolutionise wine, says French creator

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A French glassmaker is hoping to revolutionise the experience of drinking wine with a new design that promises to settle the age-old argument between alcohol and the grape.

The tulip-shaped glass, with a wide flat base and a vertical "chimney", will prevent the alcohol from overpowering the aroma of wine when the glass is swirled, according to Baccarat, a maker of luxury crystal glassware.

The design prevents the usual large-scale swirling movement which oxidises the wine and burns off the delicate aromas, and retains the subtlety in the vintages, the firm said.

"This is revolutionary. This is a design that is geared towards revealing the wine," Baccarat general manager for Greater China Francois Mainetti told AFP on Friday.

He said the balance between the alcohol and the aroma in wine is as important as yin and yang in Chinese philosophy.

"It's just like a balance between fire and water, the glass balances the fire that comes from the alcohol and the aroma in the water component," Mainetti said.

The glasses went on sale in France earlier this year and were launched in China and Hong Kong last month.

China has seen an explosive growth in wine sales in recent years, linked to the Hong Kong government's decision in 2008 to drop wine import duties.

China displaced Britain to become the fifth largest wine consuming country last year, according to trade show Vinexpo and International Wine and Spirit Research.

"There is large consumption in China, so it is a legitimate territory for us to launch the glass," said Mainetti, who was confident Chinese customers would be happy to pay the asking price of HK$900 ($116).

"You always hear about the impressive (auction) prices and investment, but the reality is there is a sincere group of wine lovers and there is a growing passion for wine (in China)."

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