One morning entrepreneur Darrol Roberts made himself an espresso, as usual — but this time his ritual drink tasted the best it ever had. He wondered why — until he found a small chip on the rim of his cup. Fast forward through a few years of thought, research and development, and the world now has Roberts Wineware: Glasses with small grooves on the outside of the rim.
Roberts called in favors with a few friendly neurologists and other researchers to find out if his hypothesis about the chip stimulating his senses was correct. Largely, they agreed that tickling the tongue does get the salivary glands going and stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain, thus heightening sensitivity. For Roberts, who'd had a career with multinational corporations and tasted plenty of prestigious wines at business dinners, creating grooved stemware was a natural next move.
Now, we don't support the idea that you need 43 different glass shapes and sizes in order to get the most out of each and every type of wine; just one set for everyday, another for guests. After testing the Roberts glasses, we think they suit either purpose. And the prices are the same ($25 each) as the other fancy stemware out there; plus, they're sturdy and dishwasher safe. The glasses come in sets of four, in five different styles (two reds, two whites, one flute).
Admittedly, it feels weird tickling the rim of the glass with your tongue. (And you might not want to do this while sitting across from your in-laws.) But the glasses are elegant even if you find they don't make a difference — we thought we detected a slight one in two taste tests.