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Age young wine faster in tenmoku ceramic cups

Difference in taste could be due to magnetic properties of tenmoku glaze.

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Want to drink that young wine faster? Pour it into a tenmoku cup.

Its effect on wine is almost like a shortcut to ageing the vino, which tastes sweeter and more rounded in a tenmoku cup than a wine glass.

Robert Rees, marketing manager of online wine trader Wine Exchange Asia, made this observation during a recent formal tenmoku tasting held here. Rees, who has 32 years of trading and consulting experience in the wine industry, sampled a 2010 cabernet sauvignon from Canadian winery Pillitteri Estates in glasses and tenmoku ceramic cups.

“The key difference for me was texture. There was a multitude of layers in the wine served in a tenmoku cup that enhanced and expanded on the usual aspects of wine,” says Rees. Almost like it was a different, more mellowed vino.

If this sounds like a miracle cup, Taiwanese ceramist Zhang Gui Wei explains that the difference in taste could be due to the magnetic properties of the tenmoku glaze. “The cup is baked at a temperature above 1,300 deg C, which converts a portion of the iron into magnetite. The distribution of magnetite emits traces of electromagnetic waves that ionize the liquid,” he says. This is possibly why wine, tea and even water taste different in a tenmoku cup.

Experimenting with the transformative properties of tenmoku might be recent, but its history dates back to the Fujian province of China during the Song dynasty.

Once called jian zhan (small bowl in Mandarin), tenmoku is the Japanese name for tianmu, given by Japanese monks who practised Buddhism in China’s Mount Tianmu and took these cups home.

They are, first and foremost, works of art. They take a week to make and for more uncommon patterns like gold oil spots, the success rate per batch is 5 per cent. One such cup can easily command more than $10,000. But you’ll probably be using it more than any other objet d’art in your curio cabinet.

For enquiries, call tea enthusiast Kenny Leong at tel: 9862-4711.