The wine glass has evolved over many centuries. In that time, there have been many different types of vessels used to hold and drink wine, and they have varied across the globe. Early drinking vessels were not made of glass at all. It was not until glass was discovered and began to be produced that the wine glass began to take shape.
Types of glass like Obsidian, are found in nature and have been used as tools since the Stone Age. As early as 2500 BC, glass began to be used in jewelry in Egypt. The first evidence of glass hollow-ware comes 1000 years later during the reign of Thutmose III. The clay-tablet library of Ashurbanipal, King of Assyria (668-627 BC) contains instructions for glass making that use very similar formulas that glass-makers use today.
In the Roman Empire, glass was as costly as precious metals. Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79) in his Naturalis Historia declared it to be the preferred vessel for drinking wine and described the glass making process. Unfortunately, this process was too expensive and time consuming to be practical.
Before the dawn of the Bronze Age, the Romans used goblets made out of silver, lead, or even pottery. There were many alternatives to glass that were in use around the world as the technology of drink-ware evolved. By the 5th Century AD, the Romans in Britain had created the Cylix that contained a tall stem with a shallow cup on top. Variations of the Cylix had wider bowls and thicker stems. For many years, the church used Horn Flagons for communion until they were forbidden in AD 785. At that time, they began using chalices made out of wood and over the next 400 years moved to silver and gold.
One particularly popular vessel in the 14th Century was called a Black Jack. ‘Jacks’ were made of pieces of leather sewn together to form the shape of a jug and a handle. They were so named because of the leather used, which resembled the ‘jack of defense’ vest that archers used as a light armor, and the black pitch used to seal the inside of the jug.
By the 15th Century, the costs associated with glass-making began to diminish and the wine glass was well on its way. During this time, we find the first evidence of wine glasses being produced with a foot, a stem, and a bowl. Willamette Valley wine tours