From bottles and goblets to temperature-controlled showcase cellars, wine and glass have a close relationship. Beginning this July, the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, N.Y., is putting that relationship on display in a new exhibition, Fire and Vine: The Story of Glass and Wine.
“It felt like a no-brainer to put these things together,” Corning Museum curator of ancient glass Katherine Larson, the show's lead organizer, told Wine Spectator. “It’s not an exhibition about wine and it’s not an exhibition about glass. It’s really [about] how those two items share this story. How does the wine get to your table?”
Each section of the exhibition focuses on a stage in wine and glass’ relationship, from winemaking (where glass pipettes shine) to bottling and tasting. Each section also highlights scientific, historic and cultural details, from ancient days through the 2010s. Fire and Vine even takes a crack at the question of how much our perceptions of wine are shaped by glassware, and there's an emphasis throughout on the local Finger Lakes wine region.
“We were really trying to think about ways to highlight material from our permanent collection and talk about it in different ways than we have before,” says Larson. This includes objects from across many countries, occasions and styles, like glasses and a miniature pitcher from the 5th century B.C. and a rare 2,000-year-old piece of cameo glass. There’s also a sealed wine bottle discovered in an 18th-century shipwreck. The museum is exhibiting about 100 objects altogether, most from its permanent collection, with some borrowed from the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, N.Y., and from nearby wineries Pleasant Valley Wine Company and Dr. Konstantin Frank.
The Fire and Vine exhibition was partly inspired last year by a new acquisition for the museum’s library: a 17th-century Italian text that may suggest the early use of glass to store and preserve wine. “I hope that [visitors] get a little sense of whimsy and surprise for how these things came to be and the role that they have in peoples’ lives,” says Larson. “I hope it sparks some imagination in people to reflect.”
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