Nobody can say for sure how glass was first discovered. Stories abound of travellers who made a fire on the beach, and discovered the next day that the sand had fused to a hard, shiny substance. Others theorise that the first pieces of glass were by-products of the earthenware firing process.
The term glass developed in the late Roman Empire. It was in the Roman glassmaking centre at Trier, now in modern Germany, that the late-Latin term glesum originated, probably from a Germanic word for a transparent, lustrous substance.
However, since the first piece of uneven glass was placed into a window frame, and the first thick piece of glass was fashioned into a goblet for wine, glass has been part of human society, and in our modern times it would be unthinkable to consider our lives without this versatile substance.
Like wine, terroir is important in glass, as the content of the soil – specifically the quartz, lime soda and potash – influence the quality of the finished product. Five areas throughout the world are renowned for excellent glassware, namely Italy, France, Sweden, Ireland and Bohemia – in what is today the Czech Republic.
Czech and Slovak glass has few rivals in terms of the range and artistry of their products, and the glass making history of these countries stretches back at least 600 years. These countries have a tradition of producing only the best quality glass items, and they still pride themselves on their heritage and on the ability to produce items that will become the heirlooms of the future.
Established in South Africa in 2005, and drawing in this history, Crystal direct has grown to be the biggest supplier of hand blown and machine blown crystal glass products, including stemware and tumblers to the local market.
With headquarters and a showroom in Stellenbosch, Crystal Direct supplies a wide range of stemware to the wine and restaurant industry of the Western Cape. Their showroom also boasts a selection of art and decorative glass pieces, and is well worth a visit.
Crystal Direct also exports a large portion of its range through Crystalite Bohemia Svetla Czech Republic. This company supplies not only Southern Africa and Central Africa, but also the USA, Canada, Italy, France, Spain, Great Britain and various countries in the Middle East.
Any wine enthusiast will tell you that the vessel in which the wine is served plays a vital part in the enjoyment of the wine. Even a superb wine will struggle to shine if served in a clumsy dull glass, with a heavy stem and a thick lip.
Different shapes of glass can help to emphasise and bring out the best in a specific wine cultivar, and it has become somewhat of a science to match a specific varietal with a specific glass shape. Whatever the glass you choose, you can never go wrong if you choose a well made, delicate glass, with a square cut rim and long stem. A glass like this will allow you to experience your wine with all your senses – the clear glass allows you to see the true colour of the wine. The long, thin stem allows you to swirl your glass, and the elegant shape of the glass itself allows your wine to release its intoxicating aroma to your nose.
At Crystal Direct we pride ourselves on producing stemware that will allow your wine to be displayed at its best. You won’t find a lip on our glasses, as they are diamond cut and ground to a square edge. There is no substitute for crystal, as it keeps wine cooler and allows it to be displayed at its best. Crystal glassware is just the perfect vehicle for a good wine.