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rob

its sparklier, and harder to make.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead_crystal

Tillerman

It's not. Crystal contains lead and if you leave alcohol in a crystal decanter it will leach the lead from the glass.

rcs

Because it makes a beautiful noise when you strike it with your fingernail.

Well, that's my reason, anyway.

turboglacier

It has more syllables?

kj

It is a well-proven adage that the better the quality of glass, the better your wine will taste.

Scheherazade

Yes, kj, that may be. But is there some property about crystal that makes it a better vessel for holding wine? What is that property?

bill

I've heard that wine decanted in crystal will taste sweeter because of a minor reaction with something (lead?? hope not!)in the crystal. I haven't tested this. I have some Waterford wine glasses and while they're pretty, they're heavy and I have to be careful when washing them. I much prefer to drink wine out of some funky 1930s molded glass goblets that a friend gave me -- I like their feel and they go into the dishwasher with no second thoughts.

kj

It's more porous than glass is. This helps aerate the wine. So they say....

I personally think that the shape of the wine glass - more than material - matters more.

I've heard that crystal is very strong so that it's possible to have a thinner glass, which I've heard also enhances the flavor of wine. But I have some fabulous, everyday wine glasses that are glass, not crystal, and I was told that they were made about as thin as is possible to make with glass.

Isaac Laquedem

Crystal is glass with lead oxide added. The lead oxide makes the glass heavier and easier to cut and polish. It also increases the index of refraction of the glass so that it's more prismatic -- it scatters more color than unleaded glass.

Carol Anne

Crystal is cooled more slowly than glass. This means that when it goes from the liquid to the solid state, the molecules don't slow down as quickly, so they are more able to arrange themselves in a regular pattern -- you can see the same effect in granite, which is lava that has cooled slowly so crystals form, compared to basalt, which is lava that cooled quickly and didn't have time for crystals to form.

The result in glassware is that crystal is stronger, and it does have a higher index of refraction -- that's also what makes a diamond more sparkly than any other gem. The stronger crystal structure also makes for the clearer ringing sound that it makes.

You don't need to worry about the lead leaching into your wine; it's locked up in the crystal structure of the molecules.

Kat

I just checked out Tillerman's link, and found this via Wikipedia: "the International Crystal Federation, an industry group, voluntarily set 1.5 milligrams per liter as the maximum amount of lead that could be leached over a 24-hour period from a small crystal decanter..."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/06/AR2006060600299.html

Fortunately, due to the rate at which I break glasses crystal has not really been an option! ;)

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