Wine tasting and glass blowing at Diablo Glass School

By Cathy Huyghe

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About once a month — including tomorrow, Saturday, February 27 —  the Diablo Glass School in Roxbury transforms into the hippest place in Boston to have a glass of wine.

The glass school, located in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, regularly opens its doors for public wine tastings. The twist is that, as guests sip their wine, they also watch professional glassblowers demonstrate how a wine glass is made.

“I jumped on it like white on rice,” said Jen Thurber from her seat in the audience at a recent event. As soon as she heard about the wine and glassblowing combination, Thurber invited Sarah Clark, a wine-loving engineer who works for a glass manufacturer. “It’s the perfect place for us to be,” Clark said.

“People come to the wine events from all over the city, from all different walks of life,” said Emily Lombardo, studio manager. “We give them something to watch, and something to drink, and a place to be social.”

Throughout the evening the audience flows back and forth from the “hot shop,” where the furnaces are located and the glassblowers perform, to the “lab,” the separate room where Josh Eaton and Susana McDonnell pour the wines.

Eaton and McDonnell are also experienced glassblowers, and they run Terroir Wines LLC, a Cambridge-based importer of French wines from small producers. Eaton introduced the concept of pairing wine tastings with glassblowing demonstrations as a way to showcase his own wines. The idea took off, and for each tasting Eaton now pairs with a local retailer to handle orders from the audience.

Eaton coordinates the evening’s wine program so the audience can shift focus from wine to glassblowing and back again. He’ll pour two samples of 2004 Lamblin & Fils 1er Cru Chablis, for example, one from Fourchaumes and the other from Beauroy, so that the audience can compare and contrast the same grape from two different localities of the same producer’s vineyard.

“We want people to learn something, and we want them to have a really good time,” Eaton said. Normally he opens between 10 and 15 wines for each event but he always ends with what he calls a show-stopper, such as a 2005 Jaboulet Vercherre Pommard. “Inevitably, he said, “when people place their orders they’ll go for these.”

Inevitably, too, people are drawn back to the hot shop and the choreography of the glassblowers. Studio manager Emily Lombardo smiles. “The wine events gives us as glass artists the chance to be rock stars for a day.”

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